Rafael dos Anjos has already won a UFC title at lightweight. Now, he’s on the verge of getting the chance at a second belt.
With a unanimous decision victory at UFC on FOX 26 on Saturday, dos Anjos puts himself near the top of the potential challenger list for Tyron Woodley’s UFC welterweight belt. Dos Anjos, speaking at the post-fight press conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, believes he has earned the next title shot and he said he has no problem waiting for Woodley’s shoulder surgery.
“I’m able to wait for him,” dos Anjos said. “I think I did enough in the division to deserve the title shot. And I’m not a guy that talks so much, try to get that title shot because I’m talking bad about people, cursing people. I just go there and do a great performance like I did tonight. I hope so. Dana White said that. That’s what I hope.”
White, the UFC president, did say leading up to this fight that the winner would face Woodley. But similar promises have been made before and who knows what could happen in the wild and wooly welterweight division by the time Woodley gets back from surgery next year.
Colby Covington, Darren Till, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Kamaru Usman are among the fresh names in the division that have come on as potential next contenders. Then there’s Georges St-Pierre, the former longtime legendary welterweight champion who just vacated the middleweight title. It’s unclear when he’ll be healthy enough to fight again after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. But GSP might want a crack at his old belt. Stephen Thomson, who has already fought Woodley twice, is still lurking out there, too.
Dos Anjos, 33, is just four fights removed from losing the lightweight title, but he believes he should be next in line for welterweight gold. With wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and now Lawler, the former champ, in the last six months, it’s difficult to argue with him. Dos Anjos (28-9), despite a sterling résumé since 2012, is perennially underrated.
“People forget,” dos Anjos said. “Most of the people in MMA, MMA fans, they have very short memory. People remember you because of your last performance; they don’t remember your whole career. I never had an easy path to get to the lightweight belt. I’m not gonna have an easy path to the get to the welterweight belt. I’m not the guy that talk much, I don’t curse people. I just go in there and work.”
Dos Anjos encountered Woodley on Saturday night after the big win. Woodley was in attendance at Bell MTS Centre, working the analyst desk for Fox Sports. Dos Anjos made the title fight proposal right to Woodley, he said.
“I had to tell him to face to face that I’m not interested in his Gucci belt,” dos Anjos said. “I want that UFC gold belt. A Gucci belt, I can buy one if I want. It’s not my taste. I want that gold belt.”
The Brazilian believes he matches up very well with Woodley, who has held the title since July 2016, if the two meet in the Octagon because of his well-rounded fighting ability.
“I think when he fought Demian [Maia], he was worried about takedowns only,” dos Anjos said. “When he fought ‘Wonderboy’ (Thomson), he was worried only about stand up. I think with me, he’s gotta be worried about everywhere. I’m gonna kick him, I’m gonna wrestle him, i’m gonna try to take him down, I’m gonna box him. He’s gonna have a lot of things to worry about.”