Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos collide at the main event of UFC on Fox 26 on December 16th, 2017 at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Lawler is coming off a victory over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 214, while Dos Anjos is has won two fights in a row since moving up to welterweight. The former UFC lightweight king defeated Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision in his welterweight debut and then submitted Neil Magny at UFC 215 in his most recent bout.
To sweeten the pot, UFC President Dana White has announced that the winner of this contest will get the next title shot against Tyron Woodley.
Lawler opened as the -160 favorite while Dos Anjos was the underdog at +120 when the lines opened. Since then, the line has gotten closer at -120 for Lawler and even money +100 for Dos Anjos.
This is a tough call really and should be a pick ‘em fight. Lawler has the sure advantage in size and punching power but to his credit, Dos Anjos has managed to keep up with the big boys at 170. RDA was able to hang with Saffiedine for three rounds and he showed that he can use his submission skills against bigger foes like Magny.
Statistically, both are even in the striking department with Lawler averaging 3.57 significant strikes landed per minute and Dos Anjos at 3.37. In terms of accuracy, Lawler also has the slight edge at 45% against 42%. Defensively, RDA’s strike defense is a little better at 65% against Ruthless’ 61%.
Going To The Ground
On the ground, Dos Anjos has a huge edge in offense. He averages 2.23 takedowns per 15 minutes while Lawler only has a 0.78 takedowns per 15 minutes. Dos Anjos also averages 0.9 submissions per 15 minutes while Lawler’s submission game is almost non-existent.
With this advantage, it’s wise for Dos Anjos to take his chances against Lawler on the mat rather than on his feet. Sure, RDA is no slouch as a striker but Lawler has otherworldly punching power and durability. He’s faced much bigger men and withstood their punches, while at the same time dishing out his own punishment.
One thing going for Dos Anjos, though, is that Lawler’s last defeat was a first round KO against Tyron Woodley. So, perhaps because Ruthless has aged, his armor may not be what it once was. However, it’s still risky to try if that is indeed the case. You know that if Lawler connects with his punches, it’s going to be a quick night for Dos Anjos.
Power and Durability
Having said those, it’s Robbie Lawler’s punching power and durability that should stand out here. Dos Anjos has fought only twice as a welterweight and he’s never seen a big power hitter like Robbie Lawler.
Lawler’s takedown defense isn’t really elite at 69% but against a smaller guy (Lawler is three inches taller and four inches longer), he should stuff RDA’s takedown attempts. Dos Anjos does have excellent striking and can match Lawler’s firepower. But it remains to be seen how he will be once Lawler connects one clean punch.
It’s going to be a chess match early with Dos Anjos using his smarts to avoid Lawler’s bombs. But eventually, Lawler is going to catch up with Dos Anjos. He’s going to swarm RDA and make him back pedal. In the championship rounds, Lawler is going to connect that one big punch that will decide the outcome of this contest. We’re picking Robbie Lawler to win by knockout after three rounds.