UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov - Rafael dos Anjos vs. Jason High Preview and Prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Rafael dos Anjos takes on Jason High in his lightweight debut for UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov at Tingley Coliseum.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Jason High Lightweight

This sucks.

What? This fight is not only awesome, but it's intoxicating as a matchup of styles and in-cage personalities.

Not the fight. I agree. I just mean it sucks that the UFC didn't let High use the Game of Thrones theme as his entrance music.

Oh...yea. Agreed. Weird decision on the UFC's part, seeing as how copyright isn't an issue.

Maybe Dana doesn't like the show?

I doubt it. He seems like exactly the kind of dude who heard about it from a second hand source and dismissed as dungeon and dragons nerdery. This is a guy who apparently doesn't know Limp Bizkit stopped making music in 2000.

Wrong.

Oh.

I think the theme would actually be less cool than High choosing either one of the only two sings that exist in the Game of Thrones universe.

You mean The Bear and the Maiden Fair and the Rains of Castamere?

No I mean the Super Audio Time 1986 Remix.

That's not bad.

The fights!

Right. All I have to say is that this fight is intriguing as hell. With the exception of Jeremy Stephens, no one had beaten RDA until Khabib Nurmagomedov. He had won five fights prior against some very good competition, Donald Cerrone, Evan Dunham, and Mark Bocek being the most notable.

Even though he's largely peaked, he's a much different fighter than the one who was controlled by Tyson Griffin. Jason High has taken a similar journey...beginning his UFC career with only defeat to show for it only to bounce back in a major way.

High began his career as a solid prospect, but his career stalled when he took a brutal head kick against Marius Zaromskis. Somehow this earned him a UFC contract. For one bout. A bunch of Strikeforce: Challengers shows later, and debuted in the UFC again in defeat, losing quickly to Erick Silva by reverse traingle armbar Things did not look good for High's career. However, Zuffa didn't cut him after one loss, and he's still employed thanks to two victories; one over James Head, the other over Anthony Lapsley.

High is +250. Sound like a good bet?

Not really. And it pains me to say it, since High is likely the most personable athlete in MMA, and by a fair margin. The problem with High's game is that he's a wrestle-boxer without the boxing.

He has a strong, piercing left hand from his southpaw stance, and a variety of kicks, but he's not able to string everything together in a potent way. To borrow my own words, he's a blue chip prospect without blue chip results. Obviously, some of that comes down to age. But despite his experience, he's never picked up the win that would cause people to ponder his future.

Beating Andre Galvao is probably his best win at this point. For all of Galvao's talents, being a premier mixed martial artist isn't one of them. And his win over Hayato Sakurai as after he had already been finished by Zaromskis, Gono, and Nick Diaz in his previous three. High was basically beating the dead Korean BBQ obsesses horse, and not too impressively I'd add.

In RDA, you've got one of the more dynamic lightweights to deal with. What separates RDA from your garden variety black belts is his ferocity. I don't think the word is used too often to describe fighters because the brutality of the fight game is often too nestled within the subconscious, but RDA is 'fierce' in every sense of the word.

He throws wild strikes from his hands or feet, and instinctually understands that if you're gonna nab a submission, you better make damn sure they don't wake up. Granted, his last four wins are by decision, but he's a complete go getter; fighting savagely for the finish.

To me the biggest factor here is High's chin. Some fans seem to think having a bad chin, and having porous defense exist irrespective of one another. But his is simply not true. Chances are, if you're getting knocked out often, it's because your opponents are landing cleanly. High was been knocked twice which speaks more to his defense on the feet. RDA can exploit that defense with his quick high kicks, and wild left hands. Rafael isn't a savant when it comes to technique, but his sheer speed allows him to counter and his movement puts him a solid position to score high impact strikes.

I feel like High can operate fine on the feet. His snappy left hand and kicks will do work against a lot of guys in the division who are stationary, but not RDA.

Rafael dos Anjos via TKO, round 3.

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