The UFC hit Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with UFC on Fox 26 on Saturday night, featuring the intriguing Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos as the main event of the evening
Lawler, the former welterweight world champion, was outclassed and comprehensively beaten in a scintillating display by the former lightweight kingpin dos Anjos.
In the lead up to the bout, there were few who could confidently separate both men. Betting odds also suggested that we were in for a close battle between both men yet the fight was completely one-sided, as evidenced by the impressive clean sweep of 50-45 on all judges’ scorecards.
The manner of the Brazilian’s performance is bound to see him solidified as the outstanding candidate for the next shot at 170-pound champion Tyron Woodley. In an utterly dominating performance, dos Anjos relentlessly pressurized, suffocated and effectively negated Lawler’s attributes and gameplan. Kicks to the lead leg and vicious hooks to the body broke “Ruthless” down and dos Anjos’ record-setting 40-punch combination summed up his night.
There had been questions around which Robbie Lawler we would see come fight night. Considering his last two fights in the promotion were his one-round knockout loss in his unsuccessful title defense to Woodley and a labored and questionable decision victory over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Having entered the bout as the #2 ranked UFC welterweight on the roster, Lawler will now reassess where he goes from here:
“It [the loss] doesn’t matter,” Lawler told UFC on Fox 26 post fight press conference. “He did a great job out there. It just wasn’t my night. He did a great job. I just wasn’t able to do the kind of things I wanted to do. He took advantage of – he did a great job out there. Landed some good knees. Landed some good punches, couple takedowns.”
“I’m going to go home tomorrow. That’s as far as I’m thinking ahead, I guess.”
For dos Anjos, he has now proven himself to be a genuine contender among the elite at 170-pounds. With all eyes looking his way, the 33-year-old has already been called out by fellow top-rankers such as two-time challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and loud-mouthed upstart Colby Covington.
“That was a WAR!” Thompson posted on Twitter. “Hats off to both RDA and Robbie for that effort! I can be back in the Octagon this March. @RdosAnjosMMA, let’s give the fans another treat. We both want gold, it’s only fitting we battle for it! @ufc #UFCWinnipeg @danawhite”
Covington was also quick to the draw, choosing to berate the performance of both men and adding some typical derogatory comments about dos Anjos’ native-Brazil. While Covington’s angle is obviously geared towards goading the former lightweight champion into a fight in order to avenge his xenophobic comments, it is doubtful that this ploy will work:
“Sad Performance by the JV Squad on FOX for #UFCWinnipeg. RDA couldn’t even finish a broken old man! Tyron’s faking injuries. I’m here to make this division great again. Rafael dos Anjos step up and defend that dump you call home and fight me for the interim title you filthy animal,” Covington posted.
Woodley will undergo shoulder surgery which could potentially lead to a lengthy spell on the sidelines for the champion. Covington sees a fight against dos Anjos for an as yet unconfirmed interim title in Brazil. Should Woodley’s recovery indeed take longer than a few months, then Covington’s claim to an interim title bout suddenly become considerably more possible. The promotion seems eager to encourage rather than look down on the trash-talk and pantomime style villainous behavior of “Chaos”.
“I’m not a guy that talks so much to try and get a title shot, because I’m talking bad about people, cursing people,” dos Anjos told MMAjunkie after his FOX-televised win. “I just go and do a great performance like I did tonight. I hope so. Dana White said that (the winner would get a title shot), and that’s what I hope.”
For dos Anjos, Woodley’s positive reaction to what was a now failed idea of matching him up with Nate Diaz serves to indicate that his shoulder trouble is not as bad as he is making out:
“I’ve been in fight camp for the last six months,” dos Anjos said. “I need some time off, too, to go home and get better and have a little longer camp to prepare for a title fight.
“I think when (Woodley) fought Demian (Maia), he was worried about takedowns only,” dos Anjos said. “When he fought (Stephen) ‘Wonderboy’ (Thompson), he was worried only about stand-up. I think with me, he’s got to worry about everywhere. He’s going to have a lot of things to worry about.
“I had to tell him face to face – I’m not interested in his Gucci belt,” dos Anjos said. “I want the UFC belt.”