Rafael dos Anjos vs Donald Cerrone: High Stakes in Stacked UFC Lightweight Division

By Rick LaFitte
Rafael dos Anjos
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

While the Carlos ConditMartin Kampmann welterweight rematch at UFC Fight Night 27 is receiving the type of publicity it deserves, there’s a terrific lightweight matchup on the main card. Donald Cerrone meets Rafael dos Anjos in a battle of top-10 ranked fighters. Cerrone is coming off an impressive decision victory over K.J. Noons at UFC 160 his last time out. It was a solid bounce back for “Cowboy” after his stoppage loss against Anthony Pettis. Dos Anjos is riding a four-fight win streak after a hard fought decision win over Evan Dunham in his last appearance.

Cerrone, who’s always talked a good game and usually backed it up, would love to play spoiler in this one. He will be looking to show he deserves his lofty status within the division despite losses against Pettis and Nate Diaz during his UFC tenure. He’s extremely confident that his stand up game is crisper and more diverse than dos Anjos and if he’s able to keep the fight upright he will be able to inflict plenty of damage. He was especially impressive in the Noons fight in showing an ability to pick apart a noted boxer in the striking department. He has a strong Muay Thai background, which makes him a force in the kicking game and possesses strong submission skills. He’s tough as nails as the Pettis loss was the only time he was stopped via strikes in his career.

Dos Anjos, for his part, showed in the Dunham fight that he can be drawn into wild exchanges and can be hit. He’s getting better in the striking category. But if things don’t go as planned, taking things to the ground would seem a more attractive option for the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. That being said, taking Cerrone to the canvas is no easy assignment and the veteran’s grappling skills would provide an element of danger. An intangible for dos Anjos is that his confidence level has never been higher. Since his last loss to Gleison Tibau, he’s reeled off wins over Kamal ShalorusAnthony NjokuaniMark Bocek and Dunham.

We will certainly know a lot more about dos Anjos after the Cerrone fight in Indianapolis. It will determine whether he’s indeed ready to move into elite territory within the division or perhaps whether he will be regarded as a good but not great fighter. For dos Anjos, this will be his biggest test since losing to Clay Guida back at UFC 117. He’s only been knocked out once in his career by the powerful Jeremy Stephens so he has shown good durability.

Cerrone, for his part, will have no fear because of the competition he’s faced in the past and always tends to produce fireworks as evidenced by his multitude of UFC post-fight bonuses. His prime goal is to show dos Anjos that he’s not quite at his level as he looks to stay a key player in a talent laden 155-pound weight class. If you are pondering a potential Fight of the Night on this card outside of Condit-Kampmann 2, this one could deliver.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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