The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday brought UFC Fight Night 152 to Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York, where it was greeted by a rocking crowd of 8,132. The main event saw former lightweight champion turned welterweight contender Rafael dos Anjos lock horns with Kevin Lee. The Brazilian did not give Lee the warmest of welcomes at 170 pounds, as “The Motown Phenom” made the lightweight-to-welterweight transition for the first time.
Dos Anjos weathered an early onslaught from Xtreme Couture representative and found a way to battle back into the match. Fatigue took a chunk out of Lee in the latter stages of the fight, and dos Anjos put an end to festivities with an arm-triangle choke in the fourth round. Though he spoiled his counterpart’s welterweight debut, he believes Lee can excel in the weight class.
“He’s tough,” dos Anjos said in a post-fight interview. “I think he can beat a lot of guys in there [at 170 pounds]. Like I said, it takes a little bit of time to make those little adjustments. He’s strong; he has welterweight strength. I have been in there with Robbie Lawler, [Kamaru] Usman, Colby [Covington], the best guys in the world. He’s strong, too.”
The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for dos Anjos, while Lee suffered his third defeat in four appearances. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native posted a video from his Instagram account while being treated at an area hospital. “I have been through a lot of s--- in my life,” Lee said. “This really ain’t going to be s---.”
A MESSAGE OF HOPE
Ian Heinisch has endured the lowest of lows in life, and he believes his recent success in MMA can inspire people in similar situations.
Not long ago, he spent time in a Spanish prison and also served time at the notorious Riker’s Island correctional facility in New York, his incarceration related to a drug smuggling conviction. A former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion, Heinisch improved to 2-0 in the UFC with a unanimous decision over Antonio Carlos Jr. in the middleweight co-main event. He hopes his turnaround will help motivate others.
“I’m doing it for more than myself,” Heinisch said during the ESPN+ post-fight show. “I’m doing it for all those in the struggle right now, the good people that are down on their luck. They are looking at me. I went from rock bottom from a foreign prison cell and now I’m climbing the ladder of the UFC. My second fight, and I just beat the No. 12 guy. I want to give the message of hope and the comeback story that I have.”
The Factory X representative called for a fight with Derek Brunson, who took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” winner Elias Theodorou at UFC Fight Night 151 on May 4. Afterward, Heinisch explained his reasoning.
“I just feel I can beat him,” he said. “I’m believing it, and once I believe, it seems to become true. I believe in that right now and just watching his fights didn’t impress me that much, and I would like to fight him.”
The victory pushed dos Anjos’ record in Ultimate Fighting Championship main events to 5-3, while Lee’s mark in UFC headliners fell below .500 to 2-3. Meanwhile, the Brazilian moved into sixth place on the promotion’s all-time wins list with 18 … Felicia Spencer made a successful UFC debut, as she submitted fellow former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Megan Anderson with a rear-naked choke. All three women who have held the 145-pound Invicta title -- Spencer, Anderson and Cristiane Justino -- are currently under UFC contract … Brazilian lightweight Charles Oliveira moved into a tie with former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort for the second-most finishes in UFC history with 14 after he put away Nik Lentz with punches in the second round. “Do Bronx” trails only Donald Cerrone, who has 16 stoppage victories to his credit … Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Grant Dawson submitted “The Ultimate Fighter 27” winner Michael Trizano with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their undercard pairing. The loss was Trizano’s first as an amateur or professional.