Main Event Analysis and Predictions. Best bets for UFC on ESPN 4, and much more!
<p>A brutal weight cut cost us any chance of cashing on Aspen Ladd last week at Fight Night 155. For those who check my Twitter page (@TheSportsKegCEO), I gave out a replacement pick that cashed easily with Julianna Pena. Unfortunately for record keeping purposes we lost the Ladd fight which brings us to 9 wins in the last 12 predictions. There are multiple angles the Odds Market MMA team likes every week. Checkout all the UFC articles from Dave Bets and I and keep it here for all your MMA prediction needs. Onward and upward.</p><p>This week the UFC heads to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas for ‘UFC on ESPN 4’. We have been very critical of the fight cards on the ‘Squared Up’ articles, but for a non PPV card, Saturday’s fight list is a pleasant surprise. The welterweight division takes center stage when Rafael Dos Anjos squares off against Leon Edwards in the main event. By now you know what we do here so lets get after it!</p><p> </p><div><h2 style="text-align:center">RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (29-11) vs LEON EDWARDS (17-3)</h2><p><strong>Rafael Dos Anjos:</strong></p><p>Dos Anjos wasn’t a perennial contender from the day he stepped into the Octagon, he had to work for it. He made his debut at UFC: 91, losing by TKO to Jeremy Stephens in 2008. He would take the road less traveled for seven years, and finally in 2015, he found himself on the doorstep of immortality at UFC: 185. He went into his title fight with Anthony Pettis with a torn MCL and came out with the UFC lightweight championship. Since then he has beaten a who’s who of mixed martial artists including two former champions in Benson Henderson and Robbie Lawler. In 2017, after his fight with Tony Ferguson, RDA went up a weight class to Welterweight. Since the move he’s won four of his last six fights and will go into the fight with Edwards ranked the #4 Welterweight contender in the world.</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/DYRcFLkfP8jcM_y5f3wt4DVMqIc=/0x0:3871x2581/1200x800/filters:focal(0x0:3871x2581)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/52634767/usa-today-9657714.0.jpg" style="width:900px;height:600px" /></p><p> </p><h2>― STATS ―</h2><p>•Method of Victory •Significant Strikes (per/min) •Takedowns</p><p>▪5 wins by TKO ▪ 3.60 Landed ▪ 41.18% Accuracy</p><p>▪14 wins by Decision ▪ 3.25 Absorbed ▪ 59.46% Defended</p><p>▪10 wins by Submission</p><h2> </h2><h2>― PROS ―</h2><p>• Striking (The move in 2017 to boxing trainer Jason Perillo has paid off in spades for RDA. He is much smoother in the pocket, his counter game has improved tremendously and his volume has increased. Aside from his boxing skills everyone that follows the sport knows his left kick to the body is legendary, which could be a potential issue for Edwards.)</p><p>• Strength (Over the last two years, RDA has found a home at 170 lbs. and it’s because he had a substantial strength advantage at lightweight. His transition has been seamless but it’s worth noting that Edwards has a solid frame for the division and his wrestling is sound)</p><p>• Head Movement (RDA’s head movement is phenomenal. I assume that Edwards will want to bang in the pocket for small periods of time. If that’s the case, Dos Anjos’ head movement is constantly off the center line which gives his opponents who are content with staying in the pocket issues.)</p><p> </p><h2>― CONS ―</h2><p>• Pressure (RDA is a pressure fighter. What do pressure fighters hate? PRESSURE.)</p><p>• Wrestlers (For as strong as RDA is, he has had problems with bigger fighters who have gone into the Octagon, taken him down and wrestled him. It’s the closest thing to his kryptonite. You would think that his background in BJJ automatically makes him great in the guard but it hasn’t despite all his submission victories. He has been lulled to sleep on his back in previous fights and by doing so has lost rounds.)</p><p>• Focus (I thought about making this con, Fight IQ and not Focus but the truth is, RDA always comes into a fight with a well thought out game plan. The problem with RDA is that sometimes he is winning a fight on cruise control and he loses focus for a split second which has turned a fight or two from a win, to a loss. It is worth noting that he is in a main event and ranked 3rd in the world at 170 lbs. right now. Focus shouldn’t be an issue but you never know.)</p><p> </p><p><strong>Leon Edwards:</strong></p><p>The fighting pride of England, Leon Edwards started his MMA career in 2010, fighting for various MMA promotions in the United Kingdom. The first fight of his career was in June of 2011 when he defeated Damian Zlotnicki by TKO for the English MMA promotion FIGHT UK. He would win 3 of 4 fights for FIGHT UK, suffering the first loss of his career by disqualification for illegal knees. In December 2012 Edwards would sign a deal with BAMMA, another English MMA promotion. After winning three fights in the promotion, he was given his first title opportunity against then welterweight champion Wayne Murrie. He won the fight and the BAMMA welterweight championship when he submitted Murrie by rear-naked choke. He would fight five times for the BAMMA promotion, winning all five fights and finally signed a deal with the UFC in 2014. Since signing with the UFC, Edwards has amassed a 9-2 record and goes into his fight with Rafael Dos Anjos as the #12 ranked welterweight in the world.</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/c6hrOSm3LnAAeqTLvRpQpZErbt0=/0x33:2658x1805/1200x800/filters:focal(0x33:2658x1805)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/50500125/usa-today-9004836.0.jpg" style="width:900px;height:600px" /></p><h2><strong>― STATS ―</strong></h2><p>•Method of Victory •Significant Strikes (per/min) •Takedowns</p><p>▪6 wins by TKO ▪ 2.35 Landed ▪ 31.82% Accuracy</p><p>▪8 wins by Decision ▪1.86 Absorbed ▪ 67.74% Defended</p><p>▪3 wins by Submission</p><p> </p><h2><strong>― PROS ―</strong></h2><p>• Striking (Leon Edwards is a very solid striker that’s extremely well rounded. He uses every limb, his strikes are powerful and accurate plus his counter-striking game in the pocket is very composed.</p><p>• Stamina (Although he has only had 11 fights in the UFC, he has had some very tough fights against some bigger and more physically imposing fighters. His stamina rarely waivers. He seems to have a gas tank for days. His fight with RDA may very well come down to who’s stamina breaks first. I lean Edwards in that competition.)</p><p>• Speed (Edwards is very fast. It really doesn’t matter what he does, whether it’s his movement in the cage, his hand and kick speed or his muscle twitch reaction. Everything he does in the cage is fast, period.)</p><p>• Range (Edwards is never afraid to be in the pocket and brawl. That’s where he shows off a solid counter game, but that’s not where he is at his best. When he is on the outside picking his opponents apart with leg kicks or lean in combinations is where he really thrives. He uses range extremely well. He weaves in and out landing strikes and escapes without taking maximum damage.)</p><h2> </h2><h2>― CONS ―</h2><p>•Pressure (I might be overly critical here but so be it. I don’t know if it’s really pressure that troubles him. My main concern is while his movement in the cage is very fluid, he moves backwards way too often. He needs to back peddle less in the RDA fight because Dos Anjos will use that to his advantage. That is a potential problem.)</p><p>•Competition (Edwards is fighting a guy in RDA that has seen them ALL in his UFC career. It is not Edwards fault that he is younger. He also doesn’t call the shots and pick his opponents. He is at the mercy of whoever Sean Shelby wants to put in front of him. All that may be true BUT the fact remains he has not fought the caliber of competition that Rafael Dos Anjos has and that is to his disadvantage.)</p><p> </p><h2>THE VERDICT</h2><p>This is a very tough fight to call. That is why the odds are basically even. I have long been a fan of Rafael Dos Anjos. Who cares if he didn’t hold the belt very long at 155 lbs, that division was and still is ridiculous. He is getting older though, and he has lost his edge slightly as the years have gone by and the damage has accrued. Dos Anjos is coming off a nice win versus Kevin Lee. We called that fight correctly because styles make fights and I felt he had the edge against Lee. Now RDA has a very different challenge ahead of him. Leon Edwards is a legitimate prospect who will get a chance to fight for the strap at some point in his career. He pops off the screen when I watch the tape. The kid is dynamic, and the fact that he’s won 9 of 11 fights in the UFC is not an accident. Everything he does in the Octagon is crisp and often the right decision in the moment.</p><p>For me the fight comes down to one question, Is RDA going to do anything that Leon Edwards hasn’t already seen and conquered? I think the answer to that question is NO. Does RDA present a bigger striking threat than Donald Cerrone did? NO, In my opinion it’s not even close, Cerrone is a better striker than Dos Anjos. Does RDA have more power than Vicente Luque did? Again, the answer is NO and Edwards handled Luque without a problem.</p><p>We know that Rafael Dos Anjos like to wrestle his opponents into submission. That’s how he brakes his opponents. Has Edwards ever fought against anyone that tried to physically impose their will on him by wrestling, leaning and hanging on him round after round? YES. Vicente Luque who was a much bigger fighter in that fight, tried to hang on him and get him to the ground all fight and Edwards passed the test with flying colors. A similar challenge was the Gunnar Nelson fight. Gunnar is a submission specialist who hangs on his opponents all round to get in a position to submit them. What Happened? He was unable to leverage Leon Edwards’ weight and in the end Edwards fought his way to a decision victory. Finally, let us not forget that Leon Edwards lost a tough decision to current world champion Kamaru Usman. Usman was able to get him down multiple times, but Edwards fought his way back to his feet time after time and won the standup battle. Usman is ten times the wrestler that an older RDA is right now.</p><p>In the end, I don’t see Rafael Dos Anjos doing anything in the Octagon that will surprise Leon Edwards. Everything Rafael Dos Anjos does well, Edwards has seen and beaten before. Unfortunately for Rafael Dos Anjos, I expect the same thing to happen Saturday. GIVE ME EDWARDS!</p><h2>THE PICK</h2><p>Leon Edwards to win at (1.86) 1u</p></div>