Brazilian mixed martial artist Rafael Dos Anjos moved up to welterweight in June this year and has won his two fights at his new weight. Following two defeats at lightweight, his long term weight, moving up was a natural move. However, after losing twice at his comfortable weight how will he fair moving up.
A unanimous decision win on his debut at 170 pounds against Tarec Saffiedine saw the pair go to war. It showed that Dos Anjos can mix it with a naturally bigger man and his skill on the ground was still as strong. RDA also took some big shots from Saffiedine and did seem to be fazed. This is not the biggest test that the Brazilian will face when moving up and Saffiedine is not a top 10 fighter at the weight. It was a good fight for the newcomer in the welterweight division to kick off his campaign.
The shots taken in the Saffedine fight will reassure RDA, his team and his fans after Eddie Alvarez rocked and stopped the then lightweight champion. Dos Anjos was in control of the fight. He was moving forward landing kicks and punches and when the fight did go to the ground he controlled the situation. Alvarez caught the champion with a huge left right on the sweet spot, which can happen in the UFC to anybody. It must have been a confidence shattering event for Dos Anjos. Especially knowing that a fight with Connor McGregor was just around the corner.
He followed his defeat to Alvarez with a fight against Tony Ferguson which was practically a title eliminator. Ferguson claimed victory by way of unanimous decision and handed RDA his second defeat on the bounce. The fight saw the second ranked lightweight Dos Anjos lose to the person directly bellow him. Moving forward in the division seemed to have come to a halt. The move up seemed to be the only option for the experienced fighter.
Coming of the back of his debt victory at welterweight a fight was scheduled which would see Dos Anjos face sixth seed welterweight Neil Magny. The fight saw RDA completely out sized by his opponent in terms of height and reach. It was a real test for the Brazilian but one which he passed with flying colours. Dos Anjos quickly got Magny down to the ground where his size was not an advantage. He dominated Magny from the top and submitted the American via arm triangle. It was an impressive victory and one that saw RDA move into the top 10 welterweights.
After his victory the Brazilian said that he was aiming for glory in the division looking to secure a fight with current champion Tyron Woodley. The division is full of quality fighters and it is going to be an achievement for RDA to get the title shot. Gunnar Nelson sits just underneath Dos Anjos in the welterweight rankings. Above the title hopeful are fighters such as; Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler and Stephan Thompson. All of these fights would be a challenge for RDA moving up in weight and fighting opponents of this quality.
Looking at Dos Anjos when he took on Magny he looked strong. He looked in good shape and his legs seemed to give him a powerful base. RDA will more than likely want to get his opponents on the ground as this is where he is strongest. RDA has a solid striking game but moving up weight may mean that his power is not as influential.
RDA is a fantastic fighter and has a strong record of 27-9-0. Moving up is a good decision as it could reinvigorate his career. One thing is for sure, his upcoming fights will be exciting. The welterweight division is full of dangerous opponents and the size of Dos Anjos’ name in sport will mean he will take on the best. A potential title fight with Woodley is not out of the question. However, RDA has a few big fights at the weight before earning that shot. Do not rule him out as he has the potential to beat anybody on the roster.
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