Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez Pre-Fight Breakdown+Prediction - UFC Fight Night 90

For the past couple of weeks, the UFC audience was taken into ancient times. We remembered what not having an fight card twice a month felt like. To be honest, I kinda missed it. Building the hype up, truly analyzing some of the match-ups, discussing with your friends. It doesn't happen too often, and it makes next week even more special. 35 fights over three days. It's going to be insane. I decided to kick things off with my 'Fight Night 90' main event pre-fight breakdown. The UFC Lightweight Championship bout between current champion Rafael dos Anjos and former two-time Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez could easily be the best war the division has seen.

Rafael Dos Anjos is one of the scariest people to have ever lived. More importantly, he is one of the most well rounded mixed martial artists of all time. His stand up is absolutely brutal, he's a BJJ black belt, and his mental games are exhausting. After losing to Gleison Tibau in 2011, he was able to get to the next level. He suffered some major improvements and the results speak for themselves: he has won 10 out of his 11 last fights, and he's the Lightweight champion.

Now, the most relevant aspect in RDA's game is his pressure. It's insane. From bell to bell, he will get in your face and attempt to cut the ring. If he gets you to the cage, he has quite a few options to drop you. He may unload with ruthless combinations, go for a double leg, or indulge in the clinch to land a couple of big strikes. Said pressure tires you physically and mentally, and it has successfully worked on big names like Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone. Thing is, none of them operate like Eddie Alvarez.

Eddie, The Silent Assassin, Alvarez is heavily underappreciated amongst the MMA fanbase. Honestly, if you exclusively watch the UFC product, you can probably make a solid case for your dissatisfaction. Since 2012, all of his victories have come via split decision. Regardless, Alvarez is a very dangerous man. A gritty wrestler with incredibly solid standup, he has been in some amazing wars. Time and time again, he has displayed his heart. This kid is tough as nails.

What stands out when it comes to Eddie is his movement. He's great at cutting angles and changing directions to land heavy offense. This also applies to his defense. His lateral movement and circling allows him to stay off the cage. Plus, he's been working with boxing trainer Mark Henry, who can usually come up with rather clever gameplans. If Alvarez is coming out on top, it's now. This is the year of the underdog (Bisping, Miocic, Tate).

How do I see the fight playing out? I sincerely believe Eddie could pull the upset, but RDA is the favorite for a number of reasons. Let's begin by talking about their similarities. After all, MMA is a game of inches. First off, both guys have a stupendous gas tanks. They can go 5 rounds while maintaining composure and discipline. Also, they are competitors to the bone. You will rarely see them backing out of a brawl. If it comes down to it, they will both bite their mouthguard and swing (which is part of the recipe to a phenomenal bout).

In my opinion, there are two keys to the fight. The first one is RDA's wrestling. He has previously shown holes in that aspect. Jason High was tossing him around (until he gassed), while Khabib Nurmagomedov effectively out-wrestled him. It's safe to assume the champ has been working on sharpening his tools since, but his last couple of opponents haven't really attempted to take the fight to the ground. Not saying Alvarez will, but if he finds success during the contest, it may give the current champion a lot of trouble.

Lastly, the crucial key will be Alvarez's freedom of movement. On paper, Eddie should have more success countering RDA's high pressure offense, but we don't know how their styles will clash until they're in the octagon. If Dos Anjos is able to utilize his vicious body kicks to stop Alvarez's circling and push him to the cage, he'll come out on top. If The Underground King manages to avoid RDA's attacks, his countering ability could earn him the title. My heart is saying Eddie, but my brain screams Dos Anjos. While Alvarez can be dropped, he's extremely hard to finish, so I'm predicting Dos Anjos by decision.

Prediction: Dos Anjos via Decision

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