Rafael dos Anjos put on one of the best performances of his career against the gritty Robbie Lawler at UFC Winnipeg.
At UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Saturday, former champions Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos threw down in the main event. Lawler, the most recent UFC welterweight champ prior to current kingpin Tyron Woodley, and dos Anjos, a former lightweight champ, had been promised a title shot with a win on the night.
With the stakes so high, neither man wanted to come up short at UFC Winnipeg.
Lawler held the center of the cage early; RDA opened the action with a leg kick. As the first minute wore down, the pair stood in the pocket and traded, with dos Anjos opting to cover up and retreat from harm. dos Anjos continued to work the legs and look to counter Lawler’s attacks. A few more leg kicks from dos Anjos, and Lawler closed the gap, going to the head and body then clinching. RDA, however, got the better of the clinch, controlling Lawler and landing several knees to the body. He’d later land a right hand, and chop away at the legs of ‘Ruthless’ as Lawler walked him down.
Round two opened with some stand and bang. Lawler unloaded on RDA, as the Brazilian was trapped on the fence. dos Anjos fired back, and any one of those punches could have ended the fight — but didn’t. RDA circled out of harm’s way, and looked to initiate a clinch before going back to the legs. He then began to light Lawler up, catching him behind the ear then trapping him on the fence, ripping him to the body and landing blow after blow. Incredibly Lawler rolled with the punches, kept his head moving and survived. Back in the middle Lawler continued to walk dos Anjos down, and then it was his time to land strikes with RDA backed up to the fence.
Lawler went with body shots to start the third, only to have dos Anjos reverse and secure a takedown. Lawler worked back to the fence, and once back to the feet, pressured dos Anjos, ripping the body again with heavy punches. Rafael dos Anjos answered with a knee to the body. Later in the frame, after more body shots by Lawler, RDA pushed Lawler, sending him falling to the canvas. RDA jumped on his fallen foe, and dropped some crushing elbows from the top until the round came to a close.
Between rounds, it appeared Lawler was dealing with a leg injury, possibly due to RDA attacking his lead leg early. He still managed to press forward in round four, however. Dos Anjos was clearly the fresher fighter, and was able to back Lalwer up against the cage. He then mixed in shots to the body and upstairs, launched a head kick, continued to chop at Lawler’s legs, and finished the frame with a flying knee attempt.
The firefight continued in round five, where dos Anjos again managed to back Robbie Lawler up against the fence. He then dropped for a takedown, which resulted in Lawler simply holding on until referee Herb Dean stood them up. That resulted in RDA going right back to work against the cage, with Lawler unable to get off more than small flurries of offense. dos Anjos launched another flying knee in the final minute, and clinched with Lawler, attacking with more knees to the body. They went to the buzzer, with Rafael dos Anjos the clear winner in the end.
Ultimately, it was a performance worthy of a title shot.
Rafael dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)