Renato Moicano steps in on short notice when he faces Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 272 this Saturday night.
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Moicano replaces Rafael Fiziev who was forced to withdraw from this weekend’s fight card after visa issues. He’ll now face dos Anjos in a 160-pound catchweight fight in the co-main event.
Dos Anjos has lost five of his last seven bouts but his most recent fight was a split decision victory against Paul Felder in November 2020. Moicano enters on a two-fight win streak after beating Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271 in February.
Read on for the latest Dos Anjos vs. Moicano betting odds and our full staff predictions for the UFC 272 co-main event.
Dos Anjos enters as the slight betting favorite with an implied win probability of 62% before UFC 272.
- Rafael dos Anjos: -165
- Renato Moicano: +145
Renato Moicano can be categorized more as a dangerous than a skillful striker. He isn’t particularly mobile or diversified in his attack but his punches are stinging and they are fast, making him dangerous at every moment and very dangerous to try to close the gap on. At times he is very crisp with simple boxing combinations, especially ending the exchange with the left hook. However, the area he probably wants to get to is the floor and he has a brilliant way of doing it. Often you will see Moicano slip punches towards his opponent’s lead leg and look to snatch singles underneath. He doesn’t have the extended wrestling base to always commit to the level change fully, but it does allow him to use the leg to bully his opponent to the cage where he can utilize his clinch, tangle with his opponent and drag them to the floor. He never rushes transitions but he also doesn’t hesitate and as soon as he hits the mat watch for him to smoothly look to slide into dominant position. His patience allows him to stay balanced even if his opponent is able to scramble to their feet, it allows Moicano to take advantage of isolated limbs or strike as they exit. Most notably should they scramble and give up their back, Moicano’s record is littered with rear-naked choke victories.
One of the reasons that Moicano is more dangerous than he is proficient at striking is that at some point in the fight he tends to resign himself to loading up on individual shots. If they land they can land clean and powerful due to his sharpness and accuracy but when they miss he neglects to provide a follow up shot at times. This is probably because while well rounded, his experience is heavier in grappling, so striking typically taxes him more. Overall, he typically isn’t the type of fighter who wins in the striking department until he gets the finish, rather he may lose score-wise but the threat is always there and if he lands a damaging blow he jumps on it.
Rafael Dos Anjos is also a skilled Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, but what sets him apart is experience and a more well-rounded skill set. While Moicano has outstanding grappling and probably a superior submission game, I would argue that Dos Anjos excels further in his ability to establish and maintain top control. That coupled with his experience and submission defense makes it a very difficult matchup for Moicano. Furthermore, if Dos Anjos is able to win out the wrestling exchanges against the cage or use his movement to avoid the cage for the most part, he holds a substantial advantage in skillful striking. Of course, as explained before he has to be wary of Moicano as he enters, but Dos Anjos’ footwork is great. He is a southpaw so Moicano can’t slip and attack the left leg as he so often does, and it also opens up the straight left that Dos Anjos likes so much. He often shifts his center of balance completely over the front leg, allowing him to immediately shift back onto the rear afterwards to avoid counters or fall into the clinch if they are near the cage. He also favors leg and body kicks from the outside, one step further than Moicano’s preferred range. However, it’s important to note that of Dos Anjos’ skillset, the majority of his tactics work far better if he is on the front foot and not the one getting pushed back. Like Moicano, he takes people down on the fence when he can complete his grip on the double leg, but this only works with the fence.
The first and primary battle these two need to think about is who wins the center of the cage. For Moicano, he is taking this fight on short notice and it’s a big opportunity. We don’t know how active he has been the past few weeks, but if cardio is an issue, moving backwards the duration of the fight could be trouble. Furthermore, he has to tangle Dos Anjos against the cage to drag him down, on top Moicano has the better pure jiu jitsu game and submissions are his forte. If he cannot, and Dos Anjos begins to lead the fight, it allows him to dictate the range, he can outkick Moicano from outside, or pressure him backwards and attack takedowns on the cage as well. In and out movement makes Dos Anjos less predictable, and while I worry for him should he end up in too many scrambles with Moicano, if he can take Moicano down and stay tight, I think his basic and heavy grappling game allows him to dominate positionally.
Prediction: Rafael Dos Anjos to win
RDA once held the lightweight strap and has fought the best of the best for a long time since. He’s 37 years old and has been fighting in the UFC for over a decade. In that time, his style hasn’t changed but rather evolved. Early in his tenure, RDA was a competent offensive striker but struggled defensively, a solid wrestler and slick jiu-jitsu practitioner. As RDA climbed to the top of the mountain, we’ve seen him improve his good skills to become great and improve his deficiencies to manageable small holes in his game. At his peak, RDA was a tough and sound striker with a positive differential, an even stronger wrestler who learned how to use the cage to his advantage, his jiu-jitsu grew to elite levels, and he added the ability to weaponize his cardio and pressure. Now, at 37, RDA has many of those same skills but his natural gifts- reflexes, strength, and speed, are dwindling. His striking is still sound but he has become more hittable. When facing Felder, who wasn’t even training MMA before he stepped in last second, RDA got caught several times. However, his wrestling and pressure still propelled him to victory. He’ll look to do more of the same in this fight. Specifically, RDA will strike enough to open a takedown, clinch against the cage, drag his opponent down, and methodically but persistently look for a finish.
Moicano, a highly accredited BJJ fighter himself, is stepping in on late notice. This is significant because, even at a catchweight, he’ll have to cut. A quick cut like this jeopardizes Moicano’s gas tank. Therefore, I think he’ll look to put the pressure on early. Moicano has fast hands with some pop and often starts his fights aggressively moving forward. He throws in combination and pushes a high pace designed to catch his opponents and drop them, or force them to fight off their back foot. Moving forward, Moicano confidently can control fights and find finishes. When he over-exerts himself, though, Moicano can be the one on the retreat. Moicano is more hittable on his back foot and can’t threaten, as dangerously, his takedowns. His takedowns are a true danger because of his slick submission game; but, much like his striking, he’s more successful when he leads the dance.
We saw Muniz shock the world and submit Souza, something many didn’t think was possible. So, when this fight inevitably hits the mat, Moicano might shock the world himself. However, I anticipate RDA’s experience and pressure to be too much for Moicano. Taking a 5-round fight as a late replacement is hard enough; but, against a guy in RDA who will exhaust his opponent, I doubt Moicano can survive 25 minutes. I like RDA by a late stoppage.
Prediction: RDA inside the distance
Rafael dos Anjos – RDA – is a battle-tested veteran who is on the path to career resurgence since dropping down from welterweight to the lightweight division. Having fought in the UFC since 2008, it is not too surprising that RDA is an extremely well-rounded fighter who is comfortable wherever the fight goes. Although comfortable anywhere, his bread and butter attribute as a fighter is his wrestling. Similar to Colby Covington, RDA, fighting out of the southpaw stance, puts on high pressure to negate the striking distance between him and his opponent; and once done, he shoots for a takedown at a historical success rate of 36%. This takedown percentage is smaller than what one would presume, given he is widely considered to be a strong grappler, but, after assessing the elite level of competition faced, the success percentage becomes far more impressive. On the mat, RDA has the capability to inflict damaging ground and pound that leads to submission opportunities – 10 of his 15 finishes are by submission. Overall, he has the skill-set and fight IQ to beat anyone falling short of contending status given the only losses he has had since 2012 have been at the hands of the best of the division, i.e. Khabib, Usman, and Tony Ferguson to name a few.
Moicano is taking this fight on extremely short notice and doing so after recently fighting just 3 weeks ago. Perhaps the reason why Moicano agreed to fill in for Rafael Fiziev in the fight against RDA is the similarities of skills between him and the future HOF fighter. Moreover, Moicano, looking to climb the lightweight division the same way he did the featherweight division several years ago, will leap into contention with a win over the 6th ranked RDA. For Moicano, unlocking his elite, fight-ending ability will be the key in this matchup given the fight is a 5-round affair and his cardio is likely a concern. Seeking a finish in the fight is not unfamiliar for the talented veteran as he is one of the most dangerous submission artists within the entire UFC – 9 of his 16 wins are by sub, and his two most recent victories are each by round 2 submission – and, he has power on the feet that can finish the fight at any moment. The main question for Moicano, beyond the cardio concern intrinsically part of taking a fight on short notice, is if he can secure a submission victory against a grappler as talented and as experienced as RDA is; if not, Moicano will likely have trouble in the bout given his output on the feet is often less than his opponent, and for a fight taken on short notice, one would presume his output would be even less than what is considered normal for him.
This fight will be extremely high-level and entertaining given the similarities of attributes and intentions for both fighters. I anticipate each taking time on the feet to feel out the other and establish some success, but, I do not believe either will look to stand for too long due to each fighter being confident and quite comfortable on the mat. Given this belief, and fully anticipating RDA being the initiator of the takedown exchanges, I favor him in this matchup. Being in the top position will enable RDA to out-strike Moicano, and knowing RDA has never been submitted as a professional, having faced extremely dangerous submission artists as well, I fully anticipate him winning in a confident, impressive fashion.
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.