The UFC is back in the United States for UFC Rochester on Saturday night. The event will take place at The Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. The main event takes place in the UFC welterweight division where former lightweights Kevin Lee takes on Rafael Dos Anjos.
Kevin Lee will make his welterweight debut when he steps into the cage opposite RDA on Saturday night. Lee has been outspoken about his difficulties making it down to 155 in the past. I’ll be interested to see how he looks at 170. You can say he got lucky getting matched up against RDA who himself once fought at 155 and is a smaller sized welterweight.
After stringing together five straight wins, Lee was pitted against Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight championship at UFC 216. Unfortunately for Lee, he suffered his first loss in six fights when he lost to Ferguson via submission in the third round. He bounced back with a win over Edson Barboza via TKO due to doctor’s stoppage at UFC Fight Night 128 but dropped his most recent bout to Al Iaquinta for the second time by unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 31. At twenty-six-years of age, Kevin Lee has seventeen career wins. Seven of those went the distance.
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos made his welterweight debut at UFC Fight Night 111 where be decisioned Tarec Saffiedine. RDA followed up that win by beating Neil Magny via submission at UFC 215 and then Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 26. Since the Lawler victory dos Anjos is 0-2. He first lost to Colby Covington by unanimous decision at UFC 225 and most recently to current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. Granted RDA lost both fights, but he showed well by going the distance against the top two fighters in the division. At thirty-four years old the Brazilian born fighter will make the walk for the fortieth time on Saturday night. Of his twenty-eight career wins, half of them went the distance.
The co-main takes place in the UFC middleweight division where Antonio Carlos Junior goes up against Ian Heinish. Antonio Carlos Junior is on a roll having won his last five fights in a row. The last time he failed to get his hand raised was at UFC Fight Night 85 where he was stopped by Dan Kelly in shocking fashion. Carlos Jr’s last three victories were all by way of submission. First was Eric Spicely at UFC 212, second was Jack Marshman at UFC Fight Night 119 and most recently, Tim Boetsch at UFC on FOX 29. Of the Brazilian born fighters ten career wins, eight are by way of submission to go along with two via decision.
After going 10-1 on the regional circuit, Ian Heinisch made a name for himself on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series where he finished Justin Sumter in the first round. He went on to win his UFC debut by beating Cezar Ferreira via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 140. At thirty years old, Heinisch will make his second appearance for the promotion on Saturday night. The American born fighter has six wins by way of decision to go along with six finishes.
Also on the main card, Megan Anderson takes on Felicia Spencer. Former Roshambo and Invicta featherweight champion, Megan Anderson will make the walk for the third time under the UFC banner. She lost her promotional debut against Holly Holm at UFC 225 but bounced back with a win over Cat Zingano via TKO at UFC 232. The twenty-nine-year-old Australian born fighter boasts seven finishes in nine career victories.
Current Invicta featherweight champion Felicia Spencer is undefeated in her pro MMA career with all six wins under the Invicta banner. Spencer won the Invicta featherweight title at Invicta FC 32 by beating Pam Sorenson via fourth-round submission. She will make her UFC debut when she steps into the Octagon opposite Anderson on Saturday night. At twenty-eight years old, Spencer has four wins via stoppage to go along with two by decision.
The six-fight main card also includes Vicente Luque who will be looking to make it five straight wins versus late replacement and UFC newcomer Derrick Krantz. Luque was originally slated to face Neil Magny. Charles Oliveira will also be looking for his fifth win in a row when he takes on Nik Lentz for the third time. Their first fight ended in a no-contest due to an illegal knee back in 2011. They ran it back at UFC Fight Night 67 where Oliveira subbed Lentz in the third round. Rounding out the main card Davi Ramos goes for his fourth win in a row when he steps into the cage to take on Austin Hubbard whom will be making his UFC debut.
The prelims will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 4:00 PM (CST) with the main card starting at 7:00 PM (CST) also on ESPN+.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Rafael Dos Anjos (28-11) vs. Kevin Lee (17-4) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Lee -125; Dos Anjos +105
Pick: Lee by decision.
Hopefully, Lee doesn’t try and prove a point and he utilizes his wrestling. I think Lee has to get the fight to the ground and grind RDA out. If Lee wins, I don’t see him finishing RDA. However, if Lee utilizes poor fight IQ and stands with dos Anjos, then RDA will smoke him. If the odds continue to go in Lee’s favor, then I may consider backing RDA. As of now, it’s a pass for me.
Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2 1 NC) vs. Ian Heinisch (12-1) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Carlos Junior -185; Heinisch +165
Pick: Carlos Junior by decision.
This fight will be closer than people think. Heinisch is a pitbull and will not quit. He has good striking and Carlos Jr. is a bit chinny, so if he connects then it could be lights out for “Shoeface.” I think Carlos Jr. will be able to survive a few scary moments and eventually get the fight to the ground and possibly even get a finish.
Megan Anderson (9-3) vs. Felicia Spencer (6-0) – Light Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Anderson -220; Spencer +180
Pick: Anderson by decision. I liked Anderson at -140 at opening; however, at this price, I’ll pass. Don’t count Spencer out here. Holm put the blueprint out there on how to defeat Megan and Spencer’s skill sets play better than Holly’s.
Derrick Krantz (23-10) vs. Vicente Luque (15-6-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Luque -1120; Krantz +700
Pick: Luque by (T)KO.
Charles Oliveira (26-8 1 NC) vs. Nik Lentz (30-9-2 1 NC) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Oliveira -350; Correia +275
Pick: Oliveira by decision. A submission is very possible.
Davi Ramos (9-2) vs. Austin Hubbard (10-2) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Ramos -450; Hubbard +325
Pick: Ramos by (T)KO.
Aspen Ladd (7-0) vs. Sijara Eubanks (4-2) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Ladd -320; Eubanks +260
Pick: Ladd by decision. This is another fight that could be closer than people think. In the end, though, I think Ladd will outwork Eubanks to a UD.
Desmond Green (22-8) vs. Charles Jourdain (9-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Green -750; Jourdain +525
Pick: Green by decision.
Danny Roberts (16-4) vs. Michel Pereira (21-9, 2 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Roberts -250; Pereira +200
Pick: Roberts by (T)KO.
Michael Trizano (8-0) vs. Grant Dawson (13-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Dawson -135; Trizano +115
Pick: Trizano by (T)KO. I’m really looking forward to this one. I picked Trizano but with little confidence. As long as Trizano can fend off the takedown attempts, I think Trizano’s superior striking wins out.
Patrick Cummins (10-6) vs. Ed Herman (23-14, 1 NC) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Cummins -250; Herman +200
Pick: Cummins by decision. Expect both guys to gas. If the fight stays standing I like Herman’s striking considering Cummins’ questionable chin. I like Cummins superior wrestling and should have no trouble taking Herman down.
Zak Cummings (22-6) vs. Trevin Giles (11-0) – Middleweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Giles -150; Cummings +130
Pick: Giles by (T)KO.
Julio Arce (15-3) vs. Julian Erosa (22-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Arce -750; Erosa +525
Pick: Arce by submission.
This is a card that you’re better off passing on placing a substantial amount of money on. If you’re the type that needs to place a bet because it makes the fights more enjoyable then have at it, but tread lightly. Personally, I don’t see much, if any value on any fighters on this card. If something changes, I’ll tweet it out.
Enjoy the fights!