Top lightweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson are set to square off on November 5 at UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson in Mexico City. Which dynamo will stratify himself as a worthy candidate for a title shot?
Dos Anjos lost the belt to Eddie Alvarez in July after going on a tear against the division’s elite; winning five in a row in dominant fashion. The Brazilian has powerhouse buzzsawed his way through recent opponents with unswerving pressure and strong top control. RDA has been with the UFC since 2008 despite being only 31-years-old.
Ferguson, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter 13, has been rolling of late, winning eight consecutive fights in the UFC’s most competitive division. A win over dos Anjos should absolutely be enough to earn a title shot for the exciting Californian.
Expect this fight to be a brutal collision. Both fighters are bullies — they are aggressive and thrive when imposing their strength upon their opponents. The former champ has a slight advantage from kicking range; his kicks are more powerful and potentially immobilizing. He’s good at using his kicks to set up bullrushes and cut the cage. Ferguson, however, is a deft and hard-hitting boxer who’s great at mixing his punches with take-downs.
In grappling exchanges, RDA presumably will hold a slight edge, but Ferguson is beastly in his own right and has denied 78% of incoming take-down attempts. The American is great at finding chokes in scrambles (he’s won four of his last five by submission) but RDA should prove too crafty and strong to submit. Ferguson has yet to face a grappler as powerful as dos Anjos during his impressive run.
Ferguson is a slugger. He hits hard, but he gets hit often in return. Newcomer Lando Vanatta decked “El Cucuy” several times in Ferguson’s last outing. Perhaps RDA is not as slick as Lando, but his unrelenting style should lend itself to finding Ferguson’s chin. A key to success for Ferguson will be to time RDA’s approaches with pinpoint punches to stop the Brazilian in his tracks. We’ll see if dos Anjos’s chin is the same after the prolonged beating he received from Eddie Alvarez.
Both fighters are extremely durable, so don’t expect a flash knockout to happen; and they’re both difficult to hold down so I don’t anticipate too much top control to be displayed. This fight could primarily happen on the feet.
Neither man has many chinks in their armor. It’s tough to call, but RDA has a slightly more well-rounded skillset in terms of striking and he’s a little better at engaging on his terms. The former champ will be able to control the pace of the fight and win a hard-fought decision over the sturdy Ferguson.
Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos by decision