Rafael Dos Anjos (+180) vs Israel Rafael Fiziev (-220)
Dos Anjos: DK: $k | Fiziev: DK:$k
The Battle Of The Rafael’s. Bust out the copper Brett Favre knee-high compression socks for this one, homies. Some serious leg kicking are about to go down, and you don’t want to mess around and catch some secondhand compression syndrome. One minute you’re posted up on the Ikea futon, chilling, and the next, you’re yelling, “My legs! My legs! Charlie Murphy, my legs!” crawling across the living room, your legs deadweight dragging behind you. You’ll be posted up at the Applebee’s bar one minute, and the next, flat on your back cramped up with the bartender stretching you out like it’s pregame warm-ups.
This fight right here features the two best kickers in the lightweight division. If you’re a faithful follower of the Weekly Knockout, then you know there is no such thing as blocking a kick. If a kick touches you, it will cause damage. The only way to truly defend a kick is to make it miss completely. Taking it on the arms or checking a low kick with the shin leads to damage. Muay Thai fighters will repeatedly kick the arms to deaden them, rendering them virtually useless over time.
Rafael Fiziev is a killer, so don’t push him. Watching Fiziev fight is like watching one hundred car crashes in fifteen minutes. Every single kick or punch he throws is like a ten-car pile-up. State Farm covers Rafael Fiziev kicks as part of their basic coverage, zero deductible. This dude has scary power. Fiziev throws kicks like Mirko Cro-Cop in his prime: Right leg, emergency room; left leg, cemetery. For Fiziev, both kicks lead down golden paths to Valhalla.
Fiziev’s lead leg is as powerful as his rear leg, and he throws it without a switch. Switching on the lead kick gives it more power, but throwing it without a switch makes it quicker to the target and provides no tell. He can fight from either stance but is a natural orthodox fighter who likes to use the lead leg to set up the rest of his arsenal.
But Fiziev isn’t all kicks, he uses subtle slips and counters, and his left hook is like a mini Roy Jones. Fighters become so hyper-aware of Fiziev’s kicks they forget about his hands, which are just as deadly. Fiziev bobs back and forth like Mike Tyson, and this is a multifaceted technique: 1) It provides a moving target that is hard to hit, and 2) it loads up his strikes giving him extra momentum to throw his hands and shins.
Fiziev is coming off a highlight reel spinning wheel kick KO of the very tough Brad Riddell. He left Riddell frozen against the cage, in suspended animation, cryogenic. They had Riddell chilling next to Ted Williams’ head. Riddell woke up on a teraformed earth, previously known as Mars in the year 3037. In place of TP in the men’s room, they had three seashells. Riddell had no success taking Fiziev down and got stuck in a kickboxing match. And if you get stuck in a kickboxing match with Rafael Fiziev, you’re gonna have a bad time (unless you’re Bobby “King” Green).
As I mentioned, this will be a Project Runway season finale catwalk showdown of kicks. The best kicks in the lightweight division will be paraded around the Octagon, their diva attitudes demanding the crowd’s adulation with every impact. Dos Anjos’ kicks are his best weapon on the feet; his natural southpaw stance against an orthodox fighter exposes the opponent’s liver to his power round kicks. Eventually, fighters react to defend the body, and Dos Anjos then goes high. The kicks also jumpstart his hands, which are heavy but not dynamic. Dos Anjos’s hands are mostly short, round basic 1’s and 1-2’s that he uses to initiate the clinch and takedown attempts.
Rafael Dos Anjos is on his second stint in the lightweight division after going 4-4 as a welterweight. He returned to lightweight in 2020 against Paul Felder and is coming off a destruction of Renato Moicano in his most recent bout. Moicano stepped in on short notice after Rafael Fiziev had to drop the fight originally. Dos Anjos is on the fringe of title contention, and a win over Rafael Fiziev would put him, at the very least, in a title eliminator in his next bout.
Dos Anjos made his UFC debut in 2008 and briefly held the lightweight belt after beating Anthony Pettis. Over the years, Dos Anjos has developed a heavy-wrestling skillset to supplement his striking and has only really struggled against fighters who were better wrestlers than him. The game plan against Fiziev will be to initiate the clinch, work trips, and establish top position. He can stand and bang with Fiziev if his wrestling isn’t effective, but he rarely stands and bangs for the entirety of a fight.
In six UFC bouts, Rafael Fiziev’s takedown defense has been a solid noinety-five percent, having given up only one takedown. Should Dos Anjos struggle (and at some point, he will) to get the fight to the mat, this will be an absolute stand-up war. The bodies will pile up until the squawking from the flocks of carrion birds feasting on them can be heard from miles away.
The numbers: Dos Anjos is 31-13 and 20-11 in the UFC. Dos Anjos is a veteran with a cape on, a super veteran and will have a massive experience advantage against Fiziev. For his career, Dos Anjos is a fifty percent finisher with five TKO/KO’s and ten submissions. Rafael Fiziev is 11-1 and 5-1 in the UFC. He’s currently on a five-fight winning streak and has seven career TKO/KO’s and one sub. Fiziev’s value will be in a highlight reel finish throughout the fight’s duration, and nearly five significant strikes landed per minute, compared to Dos Anjos’ three and a half. Being the more active fighter will also be an advantage when it comes to the judges. Usually the more active fighter will get the nod if there aren’t any standout moments during the round.
Rafael Fiziev will be stepping in as the early (-220) favorite and provides the better chance of scoring a finish inside twenty-five minutes. But the odds (-155) favor the fight going over four and a half rounds. The fight ending under four and half rounds will give you (+120) odds. The plus side for Dos Anjos is the possibility of takedowns and top control time with a long shot at a submission from the top. Dos Anjos has ten wins by submission and is particularly handy with rear-naked and arm-triangle chokes.
Israel Adesanya mercifully ended the main event-losing streak last week; it wasn’t pretty, but it was dominant. I think this fight is a tale of two fighters at opposite spectrums of their careers. Although Dos Anjos is still a dangerous and high-level fighter, I think his best days appear closer than they are in the rear view. And Fiziev is transitioning into his prime. Rafael Fiziev via TKO, round three.
Winner: Rafael Fiziev | Method: TKO Rd.3