Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight veterans Rafael dos Anjos and Bryan Barberena will throw themselves this weekend (Saturday, December 3, 2022) at UFC Orlando inside the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Dos Anjos’ latest loss really changed everything. The former lightweight kingpin was hoping for one last run at gold, but his back and forth battle with Rafael Fiziev ended in a rare knockout loss for the Brazilian. Given that loss, he returned to welterweight, doing away with the brutal weight cuts and title aspirations. The 38-year-old is now here for some fun fights, and ‘Bam Bam’ is happy to oblige. Barberena played a unique role at Welterweight, an always fun foil to fellow scrappy veterans and former champions. A Barberena title run isn’t likely either, but ‘Fight of the Night’ type action is promised.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Raphael dos Anjos
Key wins: Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14), Robbie Lawler (UFC on FOX 26), Neil Magny (UFC 215), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27), Anthony Pettis (UFC 185), Nate Diaz (UFC on FOX 13), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 49).
Key losses: Rafael Fiziev (UFC Vegas 58), Michael Chiesa (UFC Fight Night 166), Leon Edwards (UFC on ESPN 4), Kamaru Usman (TUF 28 Final), Colby Covington (UFC 225), Tony Ferguson (TUF LA3 Final), Eddie Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11).
Keys to Victory: Rafael dos Anjos is a grinder. He’s not the sharpest kickboxer ever, the most dominant wrestler, or the most skilled submission fighter, but he’s pretty darn good all over the place and pushes a hell of a pace.
There’s an old adage in combat sports: fight the boxer, box the brawler. In this match, dos Anjos aims to do the latter. He’s not physically oversized and probably hits as hard as Barberena, but that doesn’t mean he should be looking to get away with it.
Dos Anjos is the most skilled man, and if he brings all those skills into the Octagon, he should be able to win cleanly. Against compatriot Southpaw, Anjos back calf kicks should be a huge weapon, especially since Barberena likes to plant his feet and trade. “RDA” also has the option to trade with Barberena just enough to prepare and then change levels in one withdrawal.
If dos Anjos makes good use of his kicks, boxing and takedowns, he should stay one step ahead of Barberena.
Main wins: Robbie Lawler (UFC 276), Matt Brown (UFC on ESPN 33), Warlley Alves (UFC 198), Sage Northcutt (UFC on FOX 18)
Key losses: Colby Covington (UFC on FOX 22), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 115), Randy Brown (UFC on ESPN 1), Vicente Luque (UFC Fight Night 154)
Keys to Victory: Barberena is a brawler. He’s not a straightforward or sloppy hitter, but it’s hard to deny that Barberena is at his peak when both men are tired, standing in front of each other and trading big punches.
Referring to the saying above, Barberena must fight against the boxer. Time spent shooting from a distance is time wasted for “Bam Bam”. He doesn’t want to exchange kicks with dos Anjos or allow “RDA” to establish the jab: Barberena has to get in his face.
In general, Barberena wants it to be more of a close range fight, in a phone booth. He excels at range anyway, especially when he’s able to string together punch combinations in clinch exchanges filled with knees and elbows. Additionally, this type of fight allows Barberena to impose his physique, although dos Anjos is no stranger to welterweight remnants.
As much as possible, Barberena should be the forward man. Dos Anjos is a great pressure fighter, so flipping the script on him may end up forcing dos Anjos into the kind of fight Barberena desires.
There may not be any major implications, but it’s a solid game.
At 38, who knows how many more times dos Anjos will grace the Octagon? He truly carved out a legacy for himself, the tough man who shed an unlikely tear to capture and defend the gold. Before and after his reign, he was a constant contender, fighting only the best.
He won slightly easier fights to hang his hat.
Meanwhile, Barberena is on a winning streak! He’s won three in a row and all three fights have been pretty fun. Dos Anjos is a step up in the competition, and maybe if he gets the win again, Barberena will have earned a shot against a ranked opponent. Really though, it feels like a better use of his time to keep making matches like this, in which the viewers are the ultimate winners.
At UFC Orlando, Rafael dos Anjos and Bryan Barberena will square off in the co-main event. Which man will be victorious?
remember that MMAmania.com will provide live, round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Orlando fight card on the right herestarting with ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are due to start at 10 p.m. ET, and then the remaining balance on the main card (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
For all the latest and greatest UFC Orlando: ‘Thompson vs. Holland’ news and notes, be sure to check out our comprehensive event archive. here.
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