The 28th season of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter show culminates on Friday 11/30/18 at the Pearl Concert Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The tournament finale will be headlined by a welterweight contest between former UFC lightweight champion and now #3 ranked welterweight contender Rafael Dos Anjos and the 5th ranked Kamaru Usman. This bout could have title implications with the winner possibly getting a shot at Tyron Woodley’s belt.
Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10-0 with 5 knockouts and 9 submissions)
After losing the UFC lightweight title to Eddie Alvarez and suffering a second straight setback to interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Rafael Dos Anjos moved up to 170 pounds. RDA then picked up three consecutive wins, including a one-sided unanimous decision win over former 170 pound champion Robbie Lawler. With three impressive victories at welterweight, Dos Anjos was given the opportunity to fight for the interim lightweight belt at UFC 225 last June. But Dos Anjos was dominated by Colby Covington, losing by a wide unanimous decision. Now Dos Anjos gets an opportunity to get back on track as he will face one of the hottest fighters in the 170 pound division.
Dos Anjos is a top-quality striker who has outstruck his opponents by more than 10 strikes during his last six victories. His massive volume allows him to dictate the pace of his fights and wears down his opponents to victory. Dos Anjos is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai black belt. At lightweight, Dos Anjos also showed pop in his punches and a powerful takedown game. RDA also has a deadly left kick to the body which he utilizes to slow down his opponents. Dos Anjos is also very crafty and dangerous on the ground and also has a slick submission game.
Rafael Dos Anjos vs Kamaru Usman 11/30/18
Moneyline Odds: Dos Anjos +220, Usman -260
Odds from sportsbetting.ag as of 11/29/18
Kamaru Usman (13-1-0 with 6 knockouts and 1 submission)
Kamaru Usman returns to the show that made him a household name in the UFC. Usman’s ticket to the promotion was a victory at the TUF 21 show The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs Blackzilians in 2015. Usman won that tournament with a second round triangle choke submission win over Hayder Hassan. Since then, he’s picked up seven straight wins in the UFC (12 consecutive win overall) including his most recent masterpiece, a five round unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Demian Maia at the main event of UFC Fight Night 129 last May. Now ranked in the Top 5, Usman hopes to cement his status as title challenger as he gets the biggest test of his career in former 155 pound king Rafael Dos Anjos.
Usman is a top quality wrestler who pulverizes his opposition with a punishing ground and pound attack on top position. Usman isn’t only a takedown machine with already 28 in his young UFC career but he also has tremendous take down defense as he’s defended every takedown attempt on his so far. Usman has won 12 fights in a row and his only defeat came in 2013, via rear naked choke. Usman has some power in his punches with six wins via knockout. However, since coming over to the UFC, the Nigerian Nightmare has recorded just one stoppage victory.
Usman has been favored in seven out of his eight UFC fights and he’s won all of them. Dos Anjos meanwhile has been a favorite in six out of his last seven UFC bouts but he’s gone 4-3 over that span. In this bout, Usman is the clear favorite at -260 while Dos Anjos came back at +220. Usman is staking his unbeaten streak against Dos Anjos who is 3-1 SU in the welterweight division.
For Usman, this is a huge step up in level of competition as he’s never faced someone with the experience, skills and fight resume of Rafael Dos Anjos. However, based on what we’ve seen from him in recent years, it does appear that he is ready for the challenge. On the other hand, Dos Anjos was having a good start to his welterweight career before he ran into Colby Covington who took him down a total of seven times (in 18 attempts) and pounded him on the ground. Unfortunately for Dos Anjos, Usman brings almost the same skill set and this fight may be deja vu for him.
This is a classic duel between striker and grappler with Dos Anjos being the former and Usman the latter. RDA will try to start this fight as strong as possible and hope to put Usman in uncompromising spots where he won’t be able to set up his takedowns while attempting to put down the Nigerian Nightmare on his back too. On their feet, Dos Anjos has the advantage in speed and quickness. Likewise, Usman isn’t really a power puncher so if RDA avoids getting taken down often, he’s going to make this a striking affair that he can afford to coast along. But Usman is relentless with his takedowns. The Nigerian Nightmare averages close to four takedowns per 15 minutes of action and that, unfortunately for RDA” is like Colby Covington pace.
This is a big step up in level of opposition for Usman but I think he is ready for it. Dos Anjos is also an undersized welterweight and I think Usman can have his way with him and put him on his back multiple times in this contest. As for RDA, he’s going to land some of his strikes and have his moments in the fight but the longer this drags, the bigger man in Usman should grind and wear him down. Remember that Usman is four inches taller and has a six inch reach advantage.
We’re picking Kamaru Usman to beat Rafael Dos Anjos either by stoppage due to ground and pound or by unanimous decision.