- Date & Location: Saturday Nov. 14 @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas
- Odds: Paul Felder (+140) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (-170) via Bovada
- Prediction: Dos Anjos via decision
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos was set to fight the rising Islam Makhachev in the main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 41 fight card. On Sunday evening, Makhachev dropped out of the fight due to a staph infection. On Monday, Paul Felder, who was scheduled to work commentary for the fight card, agreed to face dos Anjos. Felder is the No. 7 ranked 155-pound fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings. Dos Anjos is not ranked as he has battled at welterweight since 2017.
Felder is 5-1 since early 2017 at lightweight. His most recent scrap against Dan Hooker in February 2020 ended his five-fight winning streak at 155 pounds. The five-round battle earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
Dos Anjos won the lightweight title in 2015 with a decision win over Anthony Pettis. He defended the belt against Donald Cerrone before Eddie Alvarez defeated him in his next contest. A loss to Tony Ferguson followed. Dos Anjos is 4-4 at welterweight since he moved to 170 pounds.
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FELDER vs. DOS ANJOS ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (via MyBookie)|
|Rafael dos Anjos||-185|
FELDER vs. DOS ANJOS PREDICTION & PICK
If you look at dos Anjos’ career, he’s faced top-level competition since 2013. Sure, he’s hit a rough patch since 2018, but that run was at welterweight and against top-notch competition. In short, I would not read too much into his record. Felder has not fought the level of competition as long as dos Anjos has, but his wins over Charles Oliveira and Edson Barboza were against high-quality competition as was his split decision setback to Dan Hooker.
The weight cut to lightweight was tough for dos Anjos when he fought at 155 and that’s something to consider, but he last fought in January, so he’s had plenty of time to cut the weight safely.
Felder accepted this matchup just five days before the event. With that, there is a big concern about training and weight cutting. I expect Felder to come out firing and looking for a knockout so he doesn’t need to test his cardio in the later rounds.
Pick: Dos Anjos
BETTING VALUE WITH DOS ANJOS
Dos Anjos has not had a knockout win since 2015 and Felder has only been knocked out once in his career, so I think a stoppage via strikes is highly unlikely. Dos Anjos has 10 submission wins in his career, but Felder has never been submitted. Felder is an extraordinarily tough competitor and I don’t think dos Anjos will stop him.
Where I like dos Anjos the most is on the mat. If he can tire Felder and take him down and force Felder to fight submissions on the ground, then I feel safe that dos Anjos can get the decision win.
If Felder comes out looking for a knockout, he could score a stoppage, but the more likely scenario is that he tires if he is aggressive and that makes it easier for dos Anjos to grind out a win.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
On the feet, these two are very even, but dos Anjos has a solid edge in striking defense. He avoids 62 percent of the strikes his opponents’ attempt. That vigorous defense will play a role in this fight.
Dos Anjos has a wrestling advantage. He lands nearly two takedowns per fight and has a takedown accuracy of 39 percent. I think cardio will come into play in the takedown department because of Felder’s short time to prepare for this bout.
FIGHT STATS: FELDER vs. DOS ANJOS
|Paul Felder||Category||Rafael dos Anjos|
|3.67||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.47|
|3.40||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.18|
|0.25||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.82|
|0.2||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.6|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Felder has contemplated retirement since Hooker defeated him. He’s stated that he only wanted a high-profile bout. Taking this fight on short notice, it’s clear Felder feels dos Anjos is an opponent who can get him closer to a title fight.
As for dos Anjos, this fight is actually better for him than the Makhachev matchup because Felder is higher ranked than Makhachev. A win here should put dos Anjos into the top five of the lightweight division, or very close.