Mark Bocek vs Rafael dos Anjos is the Undercard Fight to Watch at UFC 154

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 154 is a card that from top to bottom offers interesting matchups. Not only does the main event bring back one of the most popular champions the UFC has had to offer, but both the rest of the main card and the preliminary card feature fights that have the potential to be both exciting and meaningful. But looking up and down the docket, there is one bout that stands out as an eye catcher for multiple reasons.

Mark Bocek and Rafael dos Anjos are a testament to the depth that is the UFC’s lightweight division. While both of these athletes are considered outside of the top ten ranked fighters within the group, they both have the potential to leap towards the top of the pack in an instant. This fight puts both in a position to garner much needed momentum as 2012 ends, with the possibility in 2013 of higher profile fights on free television and Pay per View.

At 11-4, Bocek has put together quite the resume during his time within the Octagon. He has seven victories at 155, and his four losses came to a wrecking crew of lightweights: Benson Henderson, Jim Miller, Frankie Edgar, and Mac Danzig. One of the more interesting aspects of Bocek’s career in the UFC is that he continues to submit high-caliber opponents as if he is on a quest to prove that he has the best submission skills in the weight class. Dos Anjos provides a staunch test, but can also offer Bocek the opportunity to provide the fans with further proof.

Dos Anjos continues to evolve as a mixed martial artist. When he first arrived in the Octagon, he was a one-dimensional fighter who was known for his abilities on the ground. However, that has changed, as he has continued to display an improving ability to land combinations with power while on his feet. He was out-pointing Clay Guida back at UFC 117, and had the “Carpenter” hurt many times before he suffered a jaw injury. When he fought George Sotriopoulos at UFC 132 he shocked many onlookers when he dropped his opponent in less than a minute. Those skills will likely have continued to improve going into this bout as well.

Bocek and dos Anjos will be very closely matched on the ground. They both have the ability to finish from multiple positions, but as we have seen in the past, when you bring together two fighters with strengths in the same area, it is their abilities in other facets of MMA that tend to determine the winner. In that case, dos Anjos’s strong advantage on the feet and improved combination striking and wrestling should keep Bocek bothered throughout the fight, and allow the Brazilian to maintain and control range. Edgar is the only individual to ever finish Bocek with strikes, and since that time he has done a strong job of staying out of dangerous exchanges. However, dos Anjos’s ability to land cleaner shots at a higher rate should land him the victor’s cup in this contest.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Mark Bocek is one of the many interesting fights that line the UFC 154 card. Fans should walk away from this event with not only a main event that will keep them talking, but undercard bouts that will serve as great fodder for discussion as well.

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