Rafael dos Anjos and Conor McGregor were just over a week away from fighting each other for the UFC lightweight title earlier this year, but a foot injury that the Brazilian suffered in training scuppered the intriguing contest which had been scheduled to headline UFC 196.
Instead, McGregor faced off against late-replacement Nate Diaz in a welterweight contest and was submitted in the second round. Dos Anjos’ next fight would also end in defeat, as well as the loss of his coveted championship, for he was battered and bludgeoned to the point of necessary intervention by Eddie Alvarez in July.
McGregor, of course, managed to rebound in August, earning a majority decision victory over Diaz in a bruising, bloody battle at UFC 202 and now he looks forward to a mammoth lightweight title showdown with the aforementioned Alvarez at UFC 205 on November 12th in New York.
On Saturday night, in Mexico City, Dos Anjos will look to demonstrate similar resiliency as he faces a surging Tony Ferguson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 98. If he does so, the former champion is hoping that he will be rewarded in the same fashion as McGregor – with a shot at the 155-pound belt.
“I think a win on Saturday will deserve a title shot,” Dos Anjos said during a recent episode of UFC Unfiltered(via FloCombat). “That’s my plan. One step at time and my focus is on Saturday, but I think a victory over Tony will give me a title shot. I’ll then watch who wins the title fight, and hopefully then I will get the winner.”
However, despite what many people likely believe, ‘RDA’ is just after the strap and the recognition that he is the best lightweight on the planet. He isn’t looking to settle an old score with McGregor or reap the added financial benefits of performing alongside the UFC’s ‘Notorious’ cash cow.
McGregor or Alvarez, either is fine for the proud Rio native.
“Fighting Conor is not my goal,” he said. “My goal is to get my belt back. If Conor has the belt and he decides to fight and defend the belt later, I want to be the guy. Conor or Alvarez–whoever wins. Fighting Conor is not my goal. Everything I do in my life, I want to be the best.”
It just so happens though, that Dos Anjos believes McGregor will be the one to emerge from UFC 205 in possession of the gold.
“I really think Conor has a big chance to win the title,” said ‘RDA’. “I think he has a big chance to beat Eddie Alvarez. I think he will get that.”
With this belief comes a certain amount of worry though. McGregor won the featherweight title by starching Dos Anjos’ countryman Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 last December, but he has yet to defend the belt. Instead, he has jumped from one weight class to another with the title in tow, leaving the 145-pound division’s top contenders frustrated.
“If Conor wins and decides to hide himself behind the belt and sit on it and lock up the whole division,” Dos Anjos said, addressing the possibility of a similar story unfolding in the lightweight division post- UFC 205, “then I will be agitated.”
He won’t be the only one.
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