Rafael dos Anjos had no intention of giving up his place in line.
The 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt strengthened his position in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division, as he submitted Kevin Lee with an arm-triangle choke in the fourth round of their UFC Fight Night 152 headliner on Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. Dos Anjos sent “The Motown Phenom” back to the drawing board 3:47 into Round 4.
Lee fought well in spurts, particularly in the first two rounds, but managed to complete only six of his 16 takedown attempts. The juice in hindsight was not worth the squeeze for the Xtreme Couture standout, as fatigue slowed him to a mid-fight crawl. Dos Anjos chipped away at his remaining resolve and set up the fight-ending sequence in the fourth round, where he sprawled out of another takedown, wheeled to the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native’s back and ultimately settled in full mount. From there, he transitioned to the choke and forced Lee to capitulate.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Dos Anjos vs. Lee,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Ben Askren-Jorge Masvidal winner: Dos Anjos stemmed the negative tide from back-to-back decision losses to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman, as he executed the second arm-triangle choke submission of his 40-fight career at Lee’s expense. The former lightweight champion continues to make waves at 170 pounds, and the line of fighters willing to face him when the stakes are highest figures to be short. Dos Anjos’ 18 victories inside the Octagon now rank sixth on the promotion’s all-time list, trailing only Donald Cerrone (23), Georges St. Pierre (20), Michael Bisping (20), Demian Maia (20) and Jim Miller (19). Askren and Masvidal have been booked opposite one another at UFC 239 on July 6.
Ian Heinisch vs. Uriah Hall: The glare of the co-main event spotlight did nothing to impede Heinisch’s progress, as he took a unanimous decision from Antonio Carlos Jr. and announced his arrival as a serious player in the middleweight division. He outstruck Carlos Jr. by wide margins in the three-round affair and withstood the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s persistent advances on the ground, scrambling out of danger while slowly eating away at his energy reserves. Carlos Jr. was a spent force in the latter half of the match, as evidenced by the fact that the Factory X standout outlanded him 71-12 in the total strikes department across the final two rounds. Hall has not competed since he knocked out Bevon Lewis at UFC 232 on Dec. 29.
Vicente Luque vs. Demian Maia-Anthony Rocco Martin winner: Luque just keeps on winning, no matter the circumstance. The 27-year-old Brazilian cut down short-notice replacement Derrick Krantz with punches in the first round of their middleweight showcase, prompting the stoppage in a little less than four minutes. Luque, who was originally paired with Neil Magny, has finished all five of his opponents during his current winning streak, three of them inside one round. Since using Season 21 of “The Ultimate Fighter” as his springboard to the UFC in 2015, he has compiled a 9-2 record, decision defeats to Michael Graves and Leon Edwards his only missteps. Maia will face Martin at UFC on ESPN 3 on June 29 in Minneapolis.
Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush-Drakkar Klose winner: Oliveira proved once more that he has more than submissions in his back of tricks, as he wiped out Nik Lentz with punches in the second round of their lightweight showcase. A battered and bloodied Lentz succumbed to blows 2:11 into Round 2 and fell to 0-2 with one no-contest in their head-to-head series with each other. Oliveira finds himself in perhaps the best stretch of his career, having pieced together a five-fight winning streak since his technical knockout loss to Paul Felder in December 2017. However, where he fits in the lightweight pecking order remains anyone’s guess. Dariush and Klose will collide at UFC Fight Night 155 on July 13.
Aspen Ladd vs. Raquel Pennington-Irene Aldana winner: The fast-rising Ladd waded through some adversity to remain undefeated with a unanimous decision over Sijara Eubanks in their undercard scrap at 135 pounds. Scores were 30-26, 29-27 and 29-28. Ladd did her best work in the second round, where she secured a takedown, advanced to full mount, threatened with a rear-naked choke and unleashed a punishing barrage of ground-and-pound. While her considerable efforts failed to generate a finish, they nevertheless represented the most decisive sequence in the fight. At 8-0, Ladd has established herself as a star in the making in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. Pennington will tackle the resurgent Aldana at UFC on ESPN 4 on July 20.