You can’t help but feel for Rafael dos Anjos.
RDA had to earn his Red Panty Night the hard way, winning nine of his 10 fights in the UFC’s most populated division. His only loss from 2012 to 2015 came to Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has kept his pristine professional record intact and has perpetually been considered by a lot of fans to be the rightful heir to the 155 lb throne.
Three dominant wins coming against Jason High, former champion Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz were enough to earn him a crack at the first MMA fighter to feature on a Wheeties box – Anthony Pettis. A five-round demolishing of ‘Showtime’ saw him claim the belt, and a one-round annihilation against Donald Cerrone followed in his first defence.
After destroying ‘Cowboy’ he made the requisite Conor McGregor call-out, and it wasn’t long before he was booked to defend his title against ‘the Notorious’ at UFC 196.
“Hey mister McGregor, if you want to come to lightweight division, this is my division, man. It’s better to stay at featherweight division. I will fight you in Brazil. I will go to Ireland to face you there. Wherever you want, man. I’m here to stay.”
It’s just a shame that his wasn’t the most memorable Octagon interview from that card that centred around the newly-crowned featherweight champion.
A champion vs champion super fight was scheduled for 5 March 2016 with McGregor’s quest to become the first fighter to simultaneously hold two belts in the promotion making it a recipe for PPV success. Dos Anjos took the back seat in the media obligations and let his opponent’s acerbic tongue weave sound bites of pure gold.
He was ready for the biggest fight of his life.
However, those lucrative Red Panties would slip through his fingers a week and a half out from fight night. A broken foot in training camp meant that his money fight was gone and instead, the guy who made all that noise after beating Michael Johnson a few months earlier was tasked with the challenge of stepping in on short notice.
Nate Diaz shocking the world by submitting McGregor in the second round meant two things – the immediate rematch was a certainty and Dos Anjos would have to take another fight in the interim. Unfortunately, he just happened to get matched up against one of the greatest lightweights in the history of the sport, Eddie Alvarez.
After being brutally beaten up by ‘the Underground King’ in the first round, RDA was handed a high-risk fight that could make or break his place in the title frame. Just like so many fighters who’ve come before him, Tony Ferguson’s unpredictable fight style proved too much for the Brazilian and he dropped a unanimous decision in a Fight of the Nigh performance.
Just like that, he was riding a two-fight skid for only the second time in his career, the first coming just after he joined the promotion in 2009. After suffering his second defeat on the bounce, RDA announced that he was moving up to 170 lb.
He has yet to book his UFC welterweight debut, but judging by the names he has been throwing out, he is looking to get paid. He has three fighters in mind for his debut, the returning Nick Diaz, the no longer underappreciated Jorge Masvidal and former champion Robbie Lawler.
They’re no Red Panty Nights, but they’re probably as close as he’s going to get for his next trip to the Octagon.
De olho em Lawler, Masvidal ou Nick Diaz, @rdosanjosmma quer lutar no UFC Rio! #NoticiaCombate . Qual seria o melhor adversário para o Rafael Dos Anjos, na nova categoria? Seja lá quem for, assistir #RDAnoUFCRio vai ser demais! . . #Combate #ProntoPraLuta #UFC #UFCnoCombate #MMA #News #Noticias #RDA #DosAnjos #Brasil #Rio #RJ #Fight #UFCRio