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UFC on ESPN 4: San Antonio

Photo by MMA Fighting

The welterweight division is more interesting than it’s ever been right now. Champion Kamaru Usman awaits his first challenger while recovering from surgery. I would assume Jorge Masvidal is next in line after breaking the record for the fastest KO in UFC history against Ben Askren’s jaw a couple of weeks ago.

Former interim champ Colby Covington also has a claim to that shot, but he’s got Robbie Lawler on deck in two weeks at UFC on ESPN 5. Tyron Woodley prepares for a return of his own, and who knows where Anthony Pettis fits in after his upset of Stephen Thompson in March, especially if he beats Nate Diaz at UFC 241?

That’s why the matchup between Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards this weekend is so important. Their peers have made it exceedingly difficult for them to stay relevant.

Edwards comes into the bout on a seven-fight win streak, including wins over Donald Cerrone and Gunnar Nelson. But he took an L from Masvidal when he got caught with that three piece and a soda backstage in London. In that sense, he has both tons of momentum and no momentum heading into Saturday.

Former lightweight champ dos Anjos enjoyed a career resurgence when he moved up to 170, defeating Lawler at the end of 2017. He has since lost back-to-back fights to Covington (for which I will never forgive him) and Usman, before getting back on track against Kevin Lee in May.

I don’t really understand the matchup to be honest. Both men are skilled martial artists but may not be as popular amongst the fans as some of the other contenders. So I feel like whoever wins this fight has to finish it decisively and impressively.

For Edwards, eight-straight wins normally makes it impossible to deny a title shot. But he’s only #12 in the rankings, whatever those are worth. Not sure if a win over dos Anjos, who to be fair currently sits at #4, would be enough to guarantee him that opportunity. Dos Anjos can’t afford to stumble again. He’s 1-2 in his last three and has time for one more run at gold.

Not worried about either competitor’s gas tank. I see this fight playing out more tactically and defensively, not a Gaethje fight. At the end, RDA outpoints Edwards after five rounds, and both men basically stay where they are within the scope of the division.

Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos def. Leon Edwards via UD, R5 5:00

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