Never in Robbie Lawler’s outstanding 16-year career had he been outclassed so thoroughly over such a long period of time. Take a bow, Rafael dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos on Saturday established himself as the No. 1 contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division, as he swept his way to a unanimous decision over Lawler in the UFC on Fox 26 main event at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All three cageside judges struck 50-45 scorecards for the Brazilian, a former lightweight champion who has his sights set on becoming a rare two-division titleholder.
The full scope of dos Anjos’ dominance can be found in the numbers. According to FightMetric, he landed twice as many significant strikes (172) as Lawler (86) and executed the only two takedowns of the 25-minute affair. The 219 total strikes with which dos Anjos connected were a career-high; and he was marvelously efficient, finding the mark at a staggering 64-percent clip. It was a tip-your-cap experience for Lawler, who was overwhelmed by leg kicks, standing elbows, clinch knees and various punching bursts to the head and body.
In the aftermath of UFC on Fox 26 “Lawler vs. dos Anjos,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Related » UFC on Fox 26 Round-by-Round Scoring
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tyron Woodley: Though he has nothing left to prove at 170 pounds, dos Anjos’ next move hinges on Woodley’s health. The reigning UFC welterweight champion has indicated that he plans to undergo surgery to repair a partially torn labrum -- a procedure that could conceivably shelve him for the first half of 2018 and bring the weight class he rules to a standstill. Dos Anjos has rattled off three straight wins since moving to the welterweight division following consecutive losses to Eddie Alvarez and Tony Ferguson. Woodley last competed at UFC 214 on July 29, when he was awarded a five-round unanimous decision over 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Demian Maia.
Robbie Lawler vs. Jorge Masvidal: Lawler has had to go back to the drawing board a time or two during his career, but at 35 years of age and with plenty of mileage on the odometer, there are legitimate concerns about how much longer he can compete at a high level. He has gone 1-2 since a sensational five-fight tear from May 24, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2016 saw him defeat Jake Ellenberger, Matt Brown, Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit in succession. American Top Team’s Masvidal last fought at UFC 217 on Nov 4, when he wound up on the short end of a unanimous decision against Stephen Thompson.
Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens-Doo Ho Choi winner: Despite his missing weight for a short-notice assignment, stock in Emmett soared after he melted Ricardo Lamas with a left hook in the first round of their co-headliner. A massive featherweight, the 32-year-old Team Alpha Male representative will need to prove the scales are not an issue before he can make serious noise about fighting for a championship. With that said, Emmett certainly has himself pointed in the right direction and now owns a 4-1 mark in the UFC. Stephens and Choi will meet in what figures to be a crackling main event at UFC Fight Night 124 on Jan. 14 in St. Louis.
Glover Teixeira vs. Daniel Cormier-Volkan Oezdemir winner: Teixeira could soon benefit from the lack of depth at 205 pounds. The former Shooto Americas champion put away Misha Cirkunov with first-round punches in their light heavyweight showcase, surviving an early barrage before executing a takedown, advancing to the Latvian’s back and closing the deal with unanswered ground-and-pound. With Alexander Gustafsson sidelined indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery and Jon Jones doing what Jon Jones does, Teixeira, 38, has emerged as an unlikely title contender. Cormier will defend the undisputed light heavyweight championship against Oezdemir at UFC 220 on Jan. 20.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Darren Till: Easily one of the most underappreciated competitors on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster, Ponzinibbio moved to 8-2 with the promotion and locked down his sixth straight victory with a unanimous decision over Mike Perry. The American Top Team welterweight wore down the knockout-minded and inhumanly durable Perry with a punishing jab and damaging leg kicks, weathering the storms when they came. During his current winning streak, Ponzinibbio has defeated Perry, Gunnar Nelson, Nordine Taleb, Zak Cummings, Court McGee and Andreas Stahl. Till, 24, has not fought since he battered Donald Cerrone to a first-round stoppage in their UFC Fight Night 118 main event on Oct. 21 in Gdansk, Poland.