Rafael dos Anjos moved to welterweight on Saturday, making an impressive debut in the division with a win over Tarec Saffiedine at UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore.
A former UFC lightweight champion, dos Anjos made the move to welterweight for this fight, hoping to get back on championship form after back-to-back losses at 155 pounds. Similarly, Saffiedine, a former Strikeforce welterweight champion, was also looking to rebound after two consecutive defeats.
Dos Anjos established his power early, opening with a hard kick to the body followed by a stiff left hand, which would prove to be the cornerstone of his fight strategy.
Saffiedine caught one of dos Anjos’ kicks in the opening round and planted the former UFC champ on his back, but dos Anjos proved to be the more aggressive fighter on the ground, even off of his back, attacking with Kimura and leg lock attempts.
Returning to their feet out of a scramble, dos Anjos continued his assault on Saffiedine’s body with harsh kicks to the midsection.
The second frame was an even stronger round for dos Anjos, whose increased strength and power at welterweight became obvious as he began to wear on Saffiedine. Dos Anjos continued to take the steam out of Saffiedine with his steady diet of kicks and some hard body shots.
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Although Saffiedine seemed to find some bounce early in the third round, he couldn’t manage to get much more than his jab to land. While dos Anjos slowed a bit in the final frame, he was still able to command where the fight would take place, putting Saffiedine on the fence, and continuing to overpower him in both their grappling and striking exchanges.
It was a strong opening performance at welterweight for dos Anjos, who hopes to have found new life in the Octagon.
“What a best way to make my welterweight debut,” dos Anjos said after the fight.
“I’m 32 years old, I know I still have a lot of things to do in my new welterweight division. This is just the beginning guys. I will do a lot in the division.”
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