The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale takes place on Friday 30th November at the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Headlined with a fight at welterweight between former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10) and TUF 21 winner Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman (13-1).
RDA and Usman are coming into this headline bout under very different circumstances. A win for Usman should see him cement himself as the next challenger for the belt after the presumed matchup between Colby Covington (14-1) and Tyron Woodley (19-3-1). No fighter in the UFC has yet managed to trump his ruthless wrestling style, although in Usmans latest victory over Brazilian BJJ legend Damian Maia (25-9), he showed the world he his striking abilities are improving with every fight. A win on Saturday would also keep Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) at arm’s length in the welterweight rankings, whose recent KO victory over Neil Magny (21-7) propelled him into the title discussion.
Dos Anjos is looking to try and regain some of the momentum he built up at welterweight before his decision loss to the aforementioned Covington at UFC 225. Before this Dos Anjos looked ferocious after moving up in weight with a violent unanimous decision win over former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (28-12 1NC) and a first-round submission win over Neil Magny. His time at welterweight is far from over with a massive pool of potential matches available to him. Leon Edwards (16-3), Ponzinbbio and even a 3rd outing with Donald Cerrone (34-11 1NC) are all very intriguing matches for the former lightweight champion.
How will the fight play out?
Usman will come into the bout with a significant six-inch reach advantage but is unlikely to make use of this advantage as he will aim to use the blueprint set out by Covington to wrestle and grind the fight out of RDA and nullify his striking abilities, although Usman should be wary of the submission threat RDA poses as a BJJ black belt.
RDA should look to keep this fight on the feet and utilise some of the brutal leg kicks that he has in his arsenal that have proven so effective in previous fights. It is worth noting that Usman has only been taken into the fourth & fifth rounds once in his career and these rounds may be where RDA can push the pace and show off his experience.
Will Rafael Dos Anjos be able to shun the wrestling offence of Usman and get his journey back to UFC gold back on track? Or will Kamaru Usman prove once again why he is one of the most feared fighters in the division?