UFC Rochester Preview: Dos Anjos vs Lee
By Anuj Datta
This event will be the promotion’s inaugural visit to Rochester. Headlining the card is a bout between former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos and top prospect Kevin Lee. RDA will be looking for his first win since 2017, by welcoming Lee to the welterweight division.
Although Lee has been in the UFC since 2014, he’s only 26 years old and is still being spoken about as a prospect as he hasn’t reached his prime yet. Notable wins over Michael Chiesa and Edson Barboza came either side of a loss to Tony Ferguson for the interim 155lb belt. But since his recent defeat, he feels a step up will be better suited to his natural size. Dos Anjos on the other hand, will be looking to make a run at the championship. The 170lb division has seen a resurgence of contenders so there is no more room for any setbacks, if he wants to breathe the rarefied air of becoming a two-weight world champion.
The co-main event has a cloud of uncertainty looming over it, with the news of Neil Magny’s withdrawal due to a USADA violation. Stepping in to face Vicente Luque however, will be UFC debutant Derrick Krantz. Krantz, a 30+ fight veteran will face the unenviable task of fighting Luque on 5 days’ notice. Currently on a 4-fight win streak himself, “D-Rock” will have his hands full with a man who has won 8 of his last 9, all finishing within the distance. An emphatic win over a top 15 opponent will put him in a good starting position.
Sijara Eubanks will be looking to make an impact in New York once again when she takes on the undefeated Aspen Ladd. Ladd, already holds a victory over Eubanks from their days in Invicta but it could be a different story at bantamweight. A win for either will put them firmly in the picture for a title shot.
Antonio Carlos Junior started his UFC career as a heavyweight, winning a variation of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. He has since moved down to middleweight, putting his world class Jiu jitsu to good use submitting 4 of his last 5 opponents. His next foe, Ian Heinisch is heavy handed and has impressed since joining the UFC through the contender series. A student of the famed Factory X gym, a win for Heinisch will put the rest of the division on notice. Avoiding the lethal ground game of Carlos Junior will be the key to victory.
This will be the third meeting between Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz. The first ending in a no contest due to an illegal knee and the second a submission win for Oliveira. This has fight of the night written all over it, with that accolade going to both of their previous bouts. Oliveira holds the distinction of most submission victories in UFC history and will be looking to extend it to 8 in 8 wins also. Lentz will be looking to exact a measure of revenge and build on his recent momentum.
Davi Ramos and Austin Hubbard have the pleasure of kicking off the main show. Both men will enter the octagon in high spirits, both riding 3 fight win streaks. Ramos is a black belt and world champion grappler but faces a hungry newcomer in Hubbard, who has submission skills of his own.
Whilst it isn’t the most stacked card in recent history, UFC Rochester has the potential to impress without the added pressure. The main event is an unexpected clash but has fight fans salivating. Kevin Lee needs the win to cement himself in the top 10, and can do it against a man who Dana White regards as the proverbial gatekeeper. RDA is approaching 35 years of age and will be participating in his 40th professional fight. He’s lost his last two against dominant wrestlers. Will it be third time lucky?