Four years later, former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos still looks like a lightweight title contender.
Dos Anjos (30-13), who returned to 155 pounds on Saturday after a 4-4 run at Welterweight, made a strong statement about where he still stands at 36. UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
The two judges hit a five-round key event 50-45 in favor of Dos Anjos. The third judge surprisingly scored 48-47 for Felder (17-6) as Islam Mahashev took the fight and saved the card five days after being ruled out due to an illness.
Felder, 36, was originally scheduled to work as a commentator for a fight broadcast for ESPN, but was able to accept the fight due to triathlon training so he was close enough to do the weights. Although his endurance was strong for 25 minutes, there was no doubt that Dos Anjos relied on six releases and dominant control of the catch.
“This camp has been a crazy roller coaster,” Dos Anjos said. “I went to Brazil and my whole family got COVID. I had to get out of the fight. We had to reconsider it. I got the news. [Makhachev] Had to leave due to infection. I coached a Tenpow wrestler, Paul Felder is a very technical and strong legacy striker.
“I’m not very happy with my performance. I wish I could do better. This is my first fight in the lightweight division, but I think I still need to make adjustments.”
Doz Anjouss, who lost his lightweight title in 2016 to the weight-grabbing focus on Friday, could look back at 155 pounds healthy after losing weight through a first-round knockout to Eddie Alvarez after claiming he was almost dead? . He proved that there was no shortage of cardio in the championship rounds as the RDA came to a screeching halt.
The real weight fear came in Felter’s camp because he was forced to lose too much weight in a few days, but happily let it out. Sacrifice led him to win the fight for the night bonus in defeat.
“I lost 22 pounds a week and lost that weight on Thursday night in the darkest night of my life,” Felder said. “I said I would be number one on the scale. I was. I wanted to come here and fight hard against a former champion. I did it.”
Felder was able to strike even with the RDA whenever he competed at the center of the cage. He opened a cut just above the right eye of Dos Anjos with a left hook in round 1, but the Brazilian was able to turn each round in his favor by supporting Felder up to the cage and eventually dragging him.
As the rounds progressed, the sharpness of Dose Anjos’ strike began to help him create division on the scorecards, as well as the uniform fury of hard body kicks. A left cross from Dos Anjos opened the 4th round late and a bad cut just above Felder’s right eye, creating a bloody mess throughout most of the final round.
“I was a little tired in the fifth round,” Felder said. “I was in good cardio shape for the triathlon, but I didn’t quit. I hadn’t stepped foot in an MMA gym in almost four months. It was based on pure endurance training and pad work.”
Dos Anjos praised that Felder had nothing to lose entering this fight by making the end of the fight week even more difficult because he knew how hard Felder was going to compete. But despite flirting with retirement talk at various points over the past year, the experience seemed to recharge Felder’s fighting spirit as he announced the fight late and focused his efforts on coring the memory of his late father.
“I can tell you for sure that I’m not going anywhere right now,” Felder said.
As for Dos Anjos, the win he already put himself in the deep pool of potential title competitors for light weight. Despite entering the fray with four defeats in his last five trips to Welterweight, the former champion now feels the need to consider a title shot.
“I think I want to face anyone in line for that belt,” Dos Anjos said. “I know I have a lot more stuff. At 36, tonight is my 30th UFC appearance. I think it’s Kabib. [Nurmagomedov] Really retired, which will open the section wide. If you look at the competitors, me and Connor [McGregor] The only real champions in that category. All the others have been interim champions. If the division is really open, Connor and I have to fight. ”