Blaydes vs Dos Santos: The second UFC card of the year takes place at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday. The card is topped with a heavyweight clash between top contender Curtis Blaydes and former champion Junior dos Santos. Before we take a look at the main event, let’s focus on the co-main event which could deliver the biggest upset of the evening. Michael Chiesa is a +235 underdog against former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos (-275), and I consider those odds to be far too wide.
To put it plainly, RDA isn’t the same fighter that he was two-plus years ago when he’d seemingly reinvented himself after a move to welterweight. He ran off three straight wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and Robbie Lawler.
However, he was outpaced by Colby Covington, and dominated by Kamaru Usman in his next two fights. Obviously, both of those guys are elite 170-pounders who can push and maintain a frenetic pace, but in my opinion, Covington broke RDA. He hasn’t looked the same since that loss.
While the Brazilian did submit Kevin Lee after the loss to Usman, I contend Lee was competing in the wrong weight class, and was exposed. RDA lost to Leon Edwards in his most recent fight via unanimous decision, and he appears a bit compromised.
On the other side, Chiesa is in the midst of the same kind of resurgence RDA experienced in 2017.
Since moving up to welterweight, he looks so much stronger and more dangerous. He has a submission win over Carlos Condit and a dominant unanimous-decision victory over Diego Sanchez.
At 6’1” Chiesa owns a 4-inch edge in height, and I believe he’ll be able to use that to his advantage in the striking department. Ultimately, he wins this match on the ground with top control, and strikes.