Rivalries: Rafael dos Anjos

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Rafael dos Anjos’ place among the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s all-time lightweights seems assured as he enters the twilight phase of his glittering career.

The 37-year-old Brazilian will return to the stage for the second time in 2022 when he takes on the once-beaten Rafael Fiziev in the main event of UFC Fight Night 209 on July 9 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Dos Anjos enters the Octagon with back-to-back wins. He last appeared at UFC 272, where he took a five-round unanimous decision from Renato Carneiro in their March 5 co-feature.

As Dos Anjos prepares for his showdown with Fiziev, a look at some of the rivalries that helped chart his course:

“Lil Heathen” packs enough thunder in his hands to knock out a grizzly bear, a reality dos Anjos can certainly attest to. The Brazilian made his organizational debut against Stephens as part of the UFC 91 undercard on November 15, 2008 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and it didn’t go to plan. Dos Anjos performed well for the first 10 minutes, as he stood tall, executed four takedowns and used active submission play, working an omoplata in the first round and threatening with an armbar in the second. It wasn’t enough to keep the aggressive Stephens at bay. Iowan reversed into top position at the end of the second set, applied their ground and pound and turned the tables. Stephens made sure the judges would play no role in the outcome at the start of the third round, where dos Anjos took a defensive posture and opted to spin on the outside. Stephens cut it with an overhand forehand, then sent a nasty right uppercut crashing into his chin. Dos Anjos hit the deck in a dazed state and was in no condition to defend against the barrage of right hands that followed. The end came 39 seconds after the third round.

Dos Anjos traumatized ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 5 winner with leg kicks and ground kicks as he claimed a one-sided unanimous decision in the UFC co-main event on Fox 13 on December 13, 2014 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. The scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27. Diaz, who lost weight for the match by more than four pounds, looked lethargic and disinterested at times. Dos Anjos beat the inside and outside of his front leg with crippling kicks throughout the opening round, rendering the Stockton, Calif. native virtually inept from an offensive standpoint. The Brazilian opened a cut near Diaz’s eye with a straight left in the second round, mixed with takedowns and responded to his opponent’s taunts and slaps from below by racking up points with the ground and the pound . Dos Anjos edged Cesar Gracie’s protege by a 129-51 margin and was credited with nearly eight minutes of control time.

The Kings MMA rep had an answer to everything Pettis threw at him, as he became the seventh lightweight titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history and won a surprisingly one-sided unanimous decision on “Showtime.” in the headliner of UFC 185 on March 14, 2015 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. All three judges scored it 50-45. Pettis was on his heels from the start. Dos Anjos bottled the Roufusport star with ruthless forward pressure on the feet and a steady stream of takedowns for 25 minutes. The Brazilian made some mistakes while doing so. Dos Anjos hit the Milwaukee native with a left hand throughout the five-round fight, leaving him with severe damage to his right eye. He was the superior fighter in all phases: Dos Anjos landed 144 strikes, 90 of them significant, and was successful on nine of his 10 takedown attempts. He passed guard Pettis five times, moving onto his back in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

Dos Anjos made ‘Cowboy’ ordinary and made it 2-0 in the second of their two head-to-head encounters when he blasted the World Extreme Cagefighting veteran with a nasty kick and kick. follow-up fist to retain the undisputed light heavyweight championship at the UFC marquee attraction on Fox 17 on December 19, 2015 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Cerrone succumbed to blows 66 seconds into the first round, ending his eight-game winning streak. The champion got to work. He popped Cerrone with his ever-improving hands, softened him with a knee to the midsection, and double-crossed the Jackson-Wink MMA rep with a left kick to the solar plexus. Cerrone never recovered. Dos Anjos swarmed with punches, sprawled on a desperate takedown attempt, rolled back and put it away with unanswered rights to the head. He had taken a unanimous decision from Cerrone when they first met at UFC Fight Night 27 in August 2013.

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‘The Underground King’ believed in himself, even when few others did, and knocked out the incumbent lightweight champion with punches in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 90 main event on July 7. 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. . Dos Anjos soaked up a hellish beating, until referee Herb Dean had seen enough and called a stoppage at 3:49 of the first round. Alvarez picked his spot and didn’t miss. The former Bellator MMA titleholder whipped a wide right hook around Anjos back defenses and landed it on rubbery legs. The Brazilian did not have the opportunity to regain his senses. Alvarez flew with an incredible flurry of power punches, briefly curled onto his back after a savage flying knee attempt and shut down Rafael Cordeiro’s disciple with a final volley of hard hooks and straight uppercuts along of the fence. The loss ended dos Anjos’ five-fight winning streak and made Alvarez the first fighter in history to win both Bellator and UFC gold.

Much of the mixed martial arts community loves to hate the MMA Masters rep, but no one, not even proud dos Anjos, can deny the world-class skills or indomitable competitive spirit he brings to the table. . Covington knocked out the Brazilian in five rounds, claimed a unanimous decision and won the interim welterweight championship in the co-headliner of UFC 225 on June 9, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago. The scores were 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47. Covington edged his opponent by a narrow clip in rounds two, three and five, but takedowns and his mastery of the cage were much more important pieces of the puzzle. He converted seven of his 18 takedown attempts, racked up 12:37 in control time and more often than not forced dos Anjos to commit on his terms. The former lightweight champion had his moments, but they were too few to sway the judiciary.

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