With a world title shot expected to be on the line, former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos continued to impress at 170 pounds, as he made it three for three in his new weight class with a five-round unanimous decision win over former welterweight boss Robbie Lawler in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night main event at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.
“In my opinion, I just beat the toughest guy in the division, and I think I deserve it (a title shot) because of my history and doing what I did in the division,” said Dos Anjos of a fight with welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. “I’ve been 10 years in the UFC already and I think I did enough tonight to deserve that title shot and I’m sure I’ll get that belt.”
Scores were 50-45 across the board.
Meeting at the center of the Octagon, the two veterans got to work, with the first serious exchange seeing both fighters land. With the crowd chanting for him, Lawler marched forward, but he was taking hard kicks to the leg in the process. “Ruthless” began to open up as he got Dos Anjos close to the fence, but the Brazilian responded with a series of knees as he locked his foe up in a clinch. The two proceeded to battle at close range against the fence, with Lawler doing solid work before the horn sounded.
Lawler let loose with both hands early in round one, but Dos Anjos eagerly responded, holding his own in the trenches. Nearly two minutes in, Dos Anjos went on the attack with a barrage of shots to the head and body, and while Lawler was getting tagged, he was also weathering the storm as the Brazilian was now in a position of possibly punching himself out. When the pace let up, Dos Anjos still looked fine, and now it was Lawler’s turn to start pressuring his foe again. And he kept the heat on until the end of the round.
Did you see Rafael Dos Anjos winning ALL FIVE ROUNDS? @kennyflorian @twooodley @dc_mma breakdown the clinic from RDA in his win over Robbie Lawler! #UFCWinnipeg https://t.co/cjIU2alOaO
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 17, 2017
Dos Anjos got the fight to the mat in the opening minute of round three, but after a brief spell there, Lawler got upright and went to work inside with Dos Anjos, both fighters getting in shots as they engaged in a grueling inside scrap. With a little over a minute left, Lawler flurried but ended up on the mat after Dos Anjos got in a couple hard counters, and RDA unleashed hard elbows for the rest of the frame.
Between rounds, Lawler let his corner know that he was injured, and it appeared that his leg was the guilty party. That didn’t stop Lawler from engaging with Dos Anjos in the fourth, but the Rio product was starting to pull away as he patiently piled up the points.
In the fifth, it was clear that Lawler was having trouble moving around the Octagon, and while Dos Anjos put him on the mat, it wasn’t for long, as referee Herb Dean stood the combatants up. And while Lawler was still dangerous, especially at close range, Dos Anjos wasn’t running out the clock, as he threw hard elbows and knees, adding to his lead as the bout closed.
“I’ve been in this game for so long, for me, tonight was a pleasure fighting a guy like Robbie,” Dos Anjos said. “It was a war, my hands are hurting.”
With the win, the No. 4-ranked Dos Anjos moves to 28-9. The No. 2-ranked Lawler falls to 28-12 with 1 NC.