Despite only having one welterweight win to his name, that being his only victory in three fights, Rafael dos Anjos almost landed himself a 170-pound title shot against Tyron Woodley at UFC 214.
Dos Anjos faces dangerous welterweight contender Neil Magny at this coming weekend’s UFC 215 card in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, but during a recently released preview of that show UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby revealed that the Brazilian had previously accepted a surprise offer of a title fight with Woodley.
“What’s interesting about this, is that we obviously had a fight with Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia,” Shelby said on the UFC 215 edition of ‘Watch List’. “Dana made it public that Tyron is fighting on this card and Maia wasn’t initially sure if he was could do it. Well the guy waiting there for that fight was ‘RDA’. He had already accepted the fight against Tyron, had Maia not been able to do it.”
“So he’s been ready to go and he’s been chomping at the bit – he wants to fight every single week. I said, ‘Hey, it didn’t work out, but I’ll try to get you back in something fun as soon as possible.’ And he was like, ‘Keep me on speed-dial.'”
Dos Anjos dropped the UFC lightweight strap to Eddie Alvarez last summer when he was rescued from a furiously brutal tirade of leather by referee Herb Dean just three minutes and forty-nine seconds into the main event of UFC Fight Night 90. ‘RDA’ later claimed that he had passed out on multiple occasions during the harrowing weight-cut that preceded the fight. Nevertheless, he attempted the dicey drop to 155lbs again just four months later, but lost a five-round decision to the relentless Tony Ferguson at UFC Fight Night 98 in Mexico City. This was enough to convince Dos Anjos that it was time to make the jump to welterweight.
In June, Dos Anjos made a successful debut at 170lbs, outpointing former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine in Singapore. It was a solid start to life in a new division, but it was hardly the sort of victory that one would expect to vault a fighter into a title fight. Saffiedine, after all, had lost three of his previous four.
In the end, however, Maia, who had earned his shot with seven straight wins, many of which came against top-quality opposition, accepted the shot despite only receiving four-weeks notice. Dos Anjos’s fellow Brazilian would go on to drop a unanimous decision to Woodley after five eye-torturing rounds of tactical non-action that supposedly inspired UFC president Dana White to cut the welterweight titlist out of a lucrative fight with returning former champ Georges St-Pierre.