The move to welterweight has revitalized Rafael dos Anjos’ career.
The former lightweight king improved to 3-0 at 170 pounds on Saturday night, as he earned a dominant five-round verdict over Robbie Lawler in the UFC on Fox 26 main event at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Dos Anjos battered his Lawler’s legs with hard kicks, which hindered the ex-champ’s ability to move. When the bout entered the clinch, the Brazilian got the best of the action there as well, ultimately cruising to a sweep on the judges’ scorecards.
“I am so happy. I have been doing this for so long and tonight was a real pleasure. Robbie Lawler is a legend and my hands are hurting,” dos Anjos said. “I was confident in my conditioning. I feel like he had a very tough head so I started working the body. I feel like I’ve gotten better and I credit my coaches.”
Dos Anjos won 10 of 11 bouts at 155 pounds from 2012 to 2015, capturing UFC gold in the process. He elected to leave the division after relinquishing the belt to Eddie Alvarez in a first-round knockout defeat at UFC Fight Night 90 and falling to Tony Ferguson in a five-round decision in his next outing at UFC Fight Night 98.
The 33-year-old Rio de Janeiro native appears to enjoy the less strenuous weight cut afforded to him at 170 pounds, as he has been dominant in dispatching Lawler, Neil Magny and Tarec Saffiedine in his new home. The most recent victory, dos Anjos believes, should vault him to the top of the contender’s list.
“In my opinion, I just beat the toughest guy in the division and I think I’ve earned the title shot,” dos Anjos said. “I am 3-0 in this division and a former champion. I have earned my shot at Tyron Woodley and I will be champion of this division.”
Woodley, who observed the bout from his analyst’s chair for Fox Sports 1, wasn’t particularly impressed with dos Anjos’ performance.
“In my opinion what I saw tonight is that if those two guys in that bout would fight me, one of those guys is gonna get knocked out,” Woodley said. “The IQ wasn’t as high as I would have liked for a guy in a No. 1 contender fight. Both of those guys always talk about pushing the pace…I saw a ton of openings for myself in both of those fighters. Obviously I don’t want to steal the shine. RDA had a great moment; he went out there and did his job. Robbie Lawler is a very dangerous opponent and he’s knocked out so many different people. Just being honest and keeping it 100 percent, I’m the champion for a reason.”