Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson Pre-Fight Analysis - TUF Latin America 3 Finale

For the past couple of weeks, UFC fans around the world were taken into ancient times. We remembered what not having a fight card every Saturday felt like. To be honest, I missed it. When given enough time, combat sports can organically build hype in unparalleled fashion. The company is slowly getting ready for what promises to be an incredible closing bimester, which includes the organization's debut in New York City and Ronda Rousey's long awaited return. However, make no mistake about it: this weekend's main event is a must-see. Rafael Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson are squaring off in a bout that has "fight of the night" written all over it. Without further ado, let's get to it:

Rafael Dos Anjos is undoubtedly 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 clinch/wrestling have suffered some major improvements. Now, the most important aspect in RDA's game is his exhausting pressure. It's freaking 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 some big strikes. Said pressure tires you physically and mentally, and it has successfully worked on elite athletes like Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone.

An important element to consider going into this battle is RDA's history coming off loses. After a split-decision loss at the hands of Gleison Tibau back in 2011, Dos Anjos was able to reinvent himself and subsequently get to the next level of his craft. He fixed many of his shortcomings and the results speak for themselves: he went on to win 10 out of his 11 next fights. The same can be said for his encounter with Khabib. After being outwrestled for three rounds, he went back to the gym and returned with a genuine enhancement when it comes to wrestling form and knowledge. Rejuvenated, he began yet another monstrous run that culminated with the UFC Lightweight championship being strapped around his waste. Earlier this year, the Brazilian was knocked out on his feet by Eddie Alvarez, losing the gold in the process. A decisive victory against a top contender would throw him right into the title picture once again. However, El Cucuy isn't your typical contender.

When it comes down to it, Tony Ferguson may very well be the most dangerous fighter in the UFC. Regardless of weight class. With a shocking 82% finishing rate, this TUF winner is in the middle of a praiseworthy 8 fight winning streak against exceptionally challenging opposition. The uppermost feature that causes El Cucuy to stick out like a sore thumb is his wild unpredictability. This guy pours it on you, hitting you with strikes coming from all eight limbs. He possesses insane KO power, but his viciousness doesn't stop there. On the ground, he's shown incredibly creative and aggressive BJJ. He can catch pretty much anyone during a wild scramble. As an opponent, Ferguson is the ultimate variable: adaptable, unpredictable, and volatile.

The one thing I truly love about this matchup is the clash of styles. This isn't your typical battle of opposing skillsets. I won't expatiate on 'striking versus grappling', 'Muay Thai versus wrestling', or 'rock versus air'. Mexico City will host a brawl between two aggressive, extremely vicious martial artists that would much rather bite down their mouthguards before backing out. What is there not to love?

When it comes to the bout itself, I believe whoever controls the pace will leave the Federal District one step closer to a title shot. We know both men place great importance in pressure, but their methods are different. Dos Anjos works like an ocean storm. Brutal and suffocating, but with a certain sense of order and patience. Ferguson, contrariwise, reminds me of a hurricane. The second the bell rings, he goes balls to the wall looking to obtain the finish (which he often retrieves). If Tony allows the action to slow down, Rafael will gladly begin to pick his shots and use his slight technical advantage to get the better of the exchanges. But if he relentlessly pushes forward giving the former champ no respect, he could very well land a killer shot that ends the night.

Another key will be RDA's body shots. In my humble opinion, Edson Barboza is the only other competitor in the UFC who can whip body kicks with as much power and speed. There was a shocking lack of midsection roundhouses in his performance against Alvarez. Assuming he was worried about the potential takedown, he shouldn't worry about Tony shooting in. Therefore, I fully expect him to throw the bombs...on multiple occasions. At the very least, they will slow El Cucuy down towards the latter rounds. At most, they'll force the finish.

Now, up until the last minute, I was picking Dos Anjos to come out on top. In many ways, he's the 'safe' pick. But when it comes to predictions, opinions vary entirely on perspective. My vision of this war has both gentlemen taking damage. Ferguson has faced serious adversity against Barboza and Vannata, yet he managed  to crawl his way back to victory. I haven't witnessed that same resiliency and determination from RDA when trouble presented itself. Therefore, I predict El Cucuy is emerging victorious.

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