UFC Fight Night Cheat Sheet: Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, left, is looking for a victory over Rafael dos Anjos, right, at UFC Fight Night on Saturday. Josh Hedges/Getty Images

The UFC is down to its final two events of 2017, beginning with Saturday's UFC Fight Night inside Winnipeg's Bell MTS Place.

The last (and only) time the UFC visited this Canadian capital in Manitoba was in 2013, with what turned out to be a very mediocre main event between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.

This card should produce better results. Former champions Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos will meet in a five-round welterweight contest with title shot implications.

ESPN's Cheat Sheet is here to break down the biggest storylines -- and predict a winner -- of Saturday's headliner.

Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (27-9), welterweight

Odds: Lawler +105; Dos Anjos -125

A five-round main event between Lawler and dos Anjos sure looks like a No. 1 contender's fight on paper -- and UFC president Dana White is on record saying the winner will get a title shot.

But that doesn't mean as much as it used to.

The criteria for receiving a UFC title shot has been hard to pin down in 2017. Georges St-Pierre emerged from a four-year absence to challenge for a middleweight title. And recently, rumor had it the UFC was gauging Nate Diaz's interest in a welterweight title shot. Diaz isn't even considered a welterweight contender.

There are plenty of potential distractions for Lawler and dos Anjos going into this weekend, but neither seems to be affected by the outside circumstances.

"They called me and asked if I was interested, and I said, 'Whatever,'" said Lawler, on how the dos Anjos fight came together. "It's the fight business. I don't really like to talk about the fight business. I like to show up and fight."

Dos Anjos said he's been following the recent headlines -- St-Pierre vacating the welterweight title, champion Tyron Woodley opting for shoulder surgery -- and will address them. But Lawler gives him plenty to focus on.

"I believe Dana when he says the winner will get a title shot," dos Anjos said. "The boss said it. And if Woodley is out for months with surgery, I'll sit there and wait for him.

"I'm not real worried about any of that. I'm worried about Robbie right now. I'll do my job, keep training and doing my thing."

Those aren't the kind of quotes that rile up a fanbase, but Lawler and dos Anjos are old school. This is an action fight between two former UFC champions that's been somewhat on the horizon ever since dos Anjos moved up.

Whether it's a No. 1 contender fight or not, it's a good one.

"I'm not a big talker. I come to fight, hard," Lawler said. "Hopefully that's enough."

Fight breakdown

So far, life's been good for dos Anjos at welterweight. But it's a small sample size.

A decision over Tarec Saffiedine in June was impressive, but Saffiedine is entrenched in the worst slump of his career. And a quick submission against Neil Magny was eye-opening in that it showed dos Anjos handle a much bigger man -- but it was also so short and one-sided that it didn't answer the lingering questions about him at this weight.

Well, any of those questions are getting answered on Saturday. Because at some point, Lawler is going to turn it loose and impose his physicality on the former lightweight.

One similarity between the two is they love the center of the cage. And they're used to getting it.

At lightweight, dos Anjos was great at pressuring opponents after claiming the middle. You might have expected him to ditch that heavier style at welterweight, but he hasn't so far. Something's got to give in this matchup, though, because the center is also where Lawler prefers to be.

One thing about Lawler, particularly in five-round fights, is he's feast or famine. When he moves forward, you better have a way to intercept and turn him away -- otherwise he'll run you to the fence and unload combinations. At other times, however, he's very inactive. His output greatly fluctuates round to round. And the last round is usually his busiest.

A big question here is whether dos Anjos can apply that pressure his style relies on against a hard-hitting, full-size welterweight who will surely stand his ground. Can dos Anjos take the center and crowd Lawler's punches and kicks from that close boxing range he loves so much?

If he struggles to do that, then he'll need to adjust in ways we really haven't seen from him against elite competition. And trying to change one's style on the fly against a ruthless finisher in Lawler seems like a very tall task.

Prediction: Lawler via decision.