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UFC Fight Night predictions — Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev: Fight card, odds, start time, live stream

UFC Fight Night will serve as a proving ground to determine which Rafael is ready to make a run at the lightweight elite. Former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos and three-time Kyrgyzstan Muay Thai champion Rafael Fiziev headline the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 9.

Dos Anjos (31-13) has looked refreshed since dropping back down to lightweight and recovering from 15 years of wear and tear. Decisive wins (ignoring judge Chris Lee’s bizarre scorecard) against Paul Felder and Renato Moicano were a step in the right direction. A win over a hungry, upward-trending and violent finisher like Fiziev would do wonders for RDA’s title campaign. You will be hard-pressed to find a fighter more battle-tested than dos Anjos. He has fought fellow world champions Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, Robbie Lawler, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson. Remove the championship clause and you still have names like Nate Diaz, Colby Covington, Leon Edwards, Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone (twice).

“My goal is to come here, make a big statement and throw my name into title contention. My name should be in title contention,” dos Anjos told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “I think I’ve never been so ready in my whole life. Moving to Brazil refreshed my career. I’m in great spirits and shape too.

“I’ve fought in the UFC for 14 years and I’ve never backed away from a fight. I’ve agreed to fight against the best guys and I’ve went the distance with them. Champions like Usman, Khabib, Colby. I fell short but I went against them. If the fans think I can be considered the BMF too, I’m OK with that.”

Fiziev (11-1) is stepping up for the biggest challenge of his life. Oddsmakers believe he will get it done. Fiziev has cashed check after check following his UFC debut against Alex White. The creative, impactful striker notched performance bonuses against Brad Riddell — courtesy of a spinning wheel kick knockout — and Moicano. Fight of the Night honors against Bobby Green and Marc Diakiese proved that Fiziev does not need a spectacular finish to deliver a spectacular fight.

“I like the challenge. This guy is a big champion,” Fiziev said on Wednesday. “He’s a former champion and I’m trying my skills against a guy who has already tested himself.

“When you think he wants to stand up, he starts to wrestle. When you think he wants to wrestle, he starts to stand up… He has good skills. That’s why I’m more than happy because this is a big test for my skills and I’m excited to test my skills.” 

Here’s the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Rafael Fiziev -220

Rafael dos Anjos +180

Lightweight

Caio Borralho -220

Armen Petrosyan +180

Middleweight

Said Nurmagomedov -340

Douglas Silva de Andrade +270

Bantamweight

Jarred Vanderaa -200

Chase Sherman +170

Heavyweight

Jamie Mullarkey -240

Michael Johnson +200

Lightweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: July 9 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET

Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas, Nevada

Stream: ESPN+

Prediction

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev: Dos Anjos is no slouch on the feet, but he cannot afford to stand with Fiziev for 25 minutes. RDA will benefit most from his experience and well-roundness, clinching and shooting for takedowns to keep the Muay Thai specialist guessing. Dos Anjos is more of a volume striker. He has fewer knockouts than Fiziev despite nearly four times as many pro fights. If RDA can use his experience and durability on the feet to set up takedowns, he can lean on his offensive grappling and submission threat to take this fight. The pendulum of danger swings greatly in Fiziev’s favor on the feet. His game plan should be simple — avoid takedowns and being pressed against the fence. Knocking out dos Anjos has traditionally been a tall order. While it’s always possible, the more likely scenario benefitting Fiziev would be three to five rounds of picking apart the former champion from range. I’m going to go against the grain and argue that RDA’s well-roundness will equip him with the tools necessary to edge out his vastly less MMA-experienced foe. Dos Anjos via UD

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