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Rafael dos Anjos vs. Michael Chiesa Odds, Analysis, and Pick

| January 14, 2020 8:39 am PDT
Rafael Dos Anjos and Michael Chiesa

If you’re hoping that the betting odds for Rafael dos Anjos vs. Michael Chiesa will be a straightforward choice, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Dos Anjos is a sizeable betting favorite over Chiesa at UFC Fight Night 166 at Raleigh, North Carolina. So sizeable that I would not be surprised at all to see some of his fans — or those who usually bet on him in fights — to sit this one out.

But I wouldn’t suggest making that decision until you have read my take on things.

Chiesa might be a serious underdog, but he has taken to the welterweight division like a duck to water. He has wins over Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez since moving up to 170 pounds in December 2018.

Do not count him out before a punch has been thrown.

Whatever happens in this fight, I think it is going to be closer than the bookmakers think. In terms of styles, these two have advantages over one another in particular departments, so expect a war.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re betting on dos Anjos vs. Chiesa.

Latest Dos Anjos vs. Chiesa Winner Odds

The odds below come courtesy of MyBookie. They are accurate at the time of writing but subject to change.

Rafael dos Anjos -250
Michael Chiesa +195

Surprised by these odds?

Well, it is clear that the bookies favor dos Anjos in this welterweight battle scheduled for January 25.

If you don’t know a lot about either guy, read on. I’m sure you’ll have a better idea of what both men can do by the time we reach the end of the post.

Analyzing Rafael dos Anjos

Look, dos Anjos might be 4-3 since graduating to welterweight, but he is still a major threat to any welterweight he shares that cage with.

Those losses have come to current UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman and two of the top contenders in Colby Covington and Leon Edwards.

Wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny, Robbie Lawler, and Kevin Lee keep the former UFC lightweight champion in the mix for a title shot.

Dos Anjos is an incredibly diverse mixed martial artist. Here’s what he does best.


RDA hasn’t had everything go his way since moving up to welterweight. But when you consider how much this division is dominated by wrestlers — and the caliber of opponents he has faced since linking up at 170 — it’s hardly a major issue.

When it comes to striking, though, it is difficult to poke any holes in what dos Anjos brings to the party. A southpaw with excellent standup, this a guy who is among the best strikers in his division.

Or, at least, he can be. Now, preparing for the likes of Covington, Usman, and Lee means that a fighter like dos Anjos will need to dedicate more time to takedown defense and the like. And I think that has shown over his last few fights.

The former 155-pound champion was known for some slick boxing and one hell of a low kick. These were his trademark skills.

Style-wise, dos Anjos is known for his stalking, pressure-fighting style. Having trained at Evolve MMA in Singapore — a gym well known for its excellent Muay Thai base — it was no surprise to see dos Anjos making full use of his low kicks and roundhouses. But it was under Master Rafael Cordeiro where he really learned the tools of the trade.

One of the best things about dos Anjos on the feet is his ability to pressure fighters into the cage. With short bursts of combinations — including some really underrated bodywork — RDA’s aim is to back a guy up to restrict their movement before teeing off.

The perfect example of this came in his last UFC lightweight title defense against Donald Cerrone in 2015.

When talking about dos Anjos’ failings on the feet, I have previously pointed out that he does not like tasting his own medicine. Fighters that can pressurize him tend to do well against him.

But Chiesa is not exactly known for his striking prowess.


If there was one major flaw in RDA’s game in the past, it was his takedown defense.

But over the past few fights, this has improved immensely.

Dos Anjos has fought some of the best wrestlers to have ever competed in MMA. Usman and Khabib both dominated him, but he showed real signs of encouragement against Lee.

At 34, dos Anjos is never going to reinvent himself as a wrestler, but he is very competent. His takedown strategy is very simple — he essentially tries to back his opponents up against the cage before attempting to shoot for double legs.

Although he is improved in this department, Chiesa will be confident of taking the fight to him. Dos Anjos will be conscious of the chances of being brought to the mat against a solid wrestler, and you will see his striking suffer as a result.


Dos Anjos is a third-degree black belt in BJJ. He has also won his last two fights via triangles, so that should tell you just how dangerous he is on the mat.

While dangerous off his back, dos Anjos is known for his top control on the ground. His transitions are top class, and he certainly knows how to keep an opponent guessing while inside the guard.

Against a guy like Chiesa, dos Anjos will certainly have to be switched on at all times.

Chiesa has three submissions in his last four wins, which makes him a dangerous prospect. However, there is no doubt that RDA has a better track record when it comes to grappling.

If the American wants to take it to the ground, dos Anjos will be more than happy to oblige.

Analyzing Michael Chiesa

Michael Chiesa has looked pretty good since making his own way to the welterweight pool of killers from lightweight.

Two solid wins over Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez will have given the Italian American some encouragement, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind — and even less in Chiesa’s — that dos Anjos is a step up in class.

Condit and Sanchez have badly faded in recent years, while RDA was challenging for the interim title at 170 in June 2018.

So, how can Chiesa overcome the threat of dos Anjos?

Let’s take a look at his skill set.


You know when a fighter with a record of 16-4 has a total of zero — yes, that is right, zero — knockouts…

I mean, how the hell does that even happen? If you want to know the answer to that question, just ask Michael Chiesa.

This is a guy that has never stopped an opponent with strikes. Crazy, really.

Anyway, that doesn’t exactly mean that Chiesa is completely useless on the feet. It just implies that the guy is better in other departments. Which he is.

Nevertheless, to succeed in MMA, you need to have a fundamental understanding of striking. Otherwise, you will be rolled over. Chiesa has that, but he is hardly one of the most effective or exciting strikers you will ever see.

When it comes to the RDA fight, he will definitely be at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting on the feet. That said, with a five-inch height and reach advantage over dos Anjos — and with a solid understanding of distance and range — he can make it difficult for the Brazilian.


Chiesa is a big, strong dude that was probably killing himself to make weight at 155.

Since moving up to welterweight, he seems to have found his place. In a division dominated by wrestlers, Chiesa will need to be on point when it comes to this skillset.

I believe Chiesa’s wrestling can cause RDA problems in this fight. While he is not considered to be on the same level as Usman, Covington, and Edwards, his strength and size can cause big problems.

Chiesa’s striking is far from eye-catching, but his wrestling can be the difference in this bout.


Chiesa is a purple belt that looks nailed on to be upgraded at some point in the near future.

I personally believe his BJJ to be underrated, and I feel he could cause many problems for dos Anjos in this fight. While he is not as technically gifted as the Brazilian, it is that size and power that will keep his opponent guessing.

But at the same time, it is Chiesa’s newfound confidence that could lead him into murky waters against RDA on the ground.

Let’s not forget that he subbed blackbelt Beneil Dariush while still being a blue belt.

When it comes down to it, Chiesa is not going to stop RDA on the feet, so the chances are that things will be taken to the mat at some point.

I can see him being competitive, at least.

Betting on Dos Anjos vs. Chiesa

Looking at the odds above, Rafael dos Anjos is clearly the man the bookies see as the better fighter on the night.

But there are a few areas where Michael Chiesa could do a lot of damage.

While I agree with the bookmakers when it comes to pricing dos Anjos as the favorite, I’m not sure his odds of -250 are worth taking. I mean, he is a former champion. He does have a better resume. And he holds advantages in striking and BJJ.

That said, dos Anjos is, at 35, approaching the latter part of his career.

He has picked up a lot of wear and tear over his 41-fight career. Could there be a chance that this shows against Chiesa on the night?

Well, I think there is a big chance that it could. The size and strength of his opponent alone are going to provide all kinds of trouble.

Let’s talk for a moment about Chiesa’s odds to beat dos Anjos. You can get +195 on Chiesa winning this fight, which, to me, is surprising. There is huge value in betting on Chiesa to upset the former champ.

Look, I’m still a fan of Rafael dos Anjos. The guy is an incredible mixed martial artist. But he does struggle with guys bigger than him.

So, on the basis of everything that I have covered, I believe the most important factors in this bout are size, strength, and endurance.

As such, I’m going to have to go against the grain here and go for Michael Chiesa. And at odds of +195, it’s much easier to make that pick.

  • Michael Chiesa

Will Chiesa Beat Dos Anjos?

At UFC Fight Night 166 on January 25, you will get your answer to that question.

When this fight was announced a couple of months back, I was convinced that RDA would win. But the great thing about analyzing a fight like this in such detail is that there is always a chance that something you initially overlook can hit you right in the face.

Those of you who enjoy analyzing fighters and getting elbows deep into these kinds of technical breakdowns will know what I mean.

Anyway, this fight should be intriguing, to say the least. But whoever you back, make sure to opt for one of our recommended UFC betting sites when getting your money down.

You can thank me for it another time!

Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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