The main event of UFC Fight Night 152 / UFC on ESPN+ 10 features a welterweight bout between Rafael dos Anjos (28-11) and Kevin Lee (17-4), who moves up to the welterweight division from lightweight for the fight.
Both men are coming off losses in their previous bouts. Lee lost against Al Iaquinta on December 15, 2018 via unanimous decision. dos Anjos has suffered back to back losses including his fight against Colby Covington for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship last June. His last fight against Kamaru Usman on November 30, 2018 resulted in a unanimous decision loss.
Despite the two losses, dos Anjos is currently ranked as the #3 contender in the welterweight division behind Tyron Woodley and Covington.
During media appearances leading up to Saturday night’s fight, the 34-year-old dos Anjos talked about speculation that he was going to be facing Santiago Ponzinibbio, a fighter he has been vocal about wanting to face.
Dos Anjos believes the reason the UFC didn’t schedule that fight is the fact that Ponzinibbio declined a match against Darren Till in London. He is quoted by MMAWeekly as saying;
“Here’s the thing because he refused a fight with Darren Till in London and Darren Till was ranked No. 3 at the time and I was ranked No. 5 at the time. They gave Ponzinibbio a higher ranked guy and he refused and now he wants to fight the top five guys but he told the UFC he would fight anybody.”
Lee, a former lightweight title contender, is making his debut in the welterweight division after fighting 13 times as a lightweight going 10-4 since debuting for the UFC in 2014. Lee has lost 2 of his last 3 fights and missed weight in his fight against Edson Barboza on April 21, 2018.
The 26-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan told The Sporting News that he wished he had have made the move to welterweight sooner. He discussed his fight against Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC Lightweight title and how he was 174 lbs twenty-four hours before he had to fight at 155 lbs.
He admitted that weight cut was one of the hardest things he has had to do in his career. Moving up the the 170 lb mark will be a more natural fighting weight for him. A win over dos Anjos would send a clear message to others in the division that he is looking to take their spot as next in line for a title shot.
Lee will have his work cut out for him as he is an underdog going into Saturday’s contest.
UFC Fight Night: dos Anjos vs. Lee takes place on Saturday, May 18, 2019 and will be broadcast live from the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York.