Bryan Barbarena has been on a legends circuit in 2022 as he faced Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Orlando while coming off of wins against Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler earlier in the year.
Dos Anjos had his last bid for a title shot foiled by Rafael Fiziev in a main event last time out but his bout with now-ranked contender Renato Moicano at UFC 272 proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with for anyone. The former champion and future Hall of Famer thus returned to welterweight, citing his desire to have fun fights and cut less weight in his last fight(s) before retirement. Bryan Barbarena, of course, represented one of the most fun fights anyone could be booked against and ‘Bam Bam’ looked to extend his winning streak to four at the expense of RDA.
Barbarena came out on the front foot, pushing back the pressure fighter RDA. The two southpaws met for one exchange where they both landed before separating again. Both were feinting extensively. RDA level changed for a single leg early but Bam Bam defended it, though they ended up in the clinch against the fence. RDA then used his legs to trip the legs out from Barbarena and ended up on top in half guard against the fence. RDA tried to lock up an arm-triangle from top and he got a good grip. However, the fence was keeping him from stepping all the way off to the side.
Barbarena survived but RDA was now in mount. RDA kept one arm in the arm triangle position while softening up the body of his foe with punches. Barbarena finally escaped from the arm triangle position and regained half guard but RDA stayed on top. RDA soon stepped back over to mount, though. Barbarena twisted and turned to give up his back and then turn back somewhat so he did not get his back completely taken. The fence kept Dos Anjos from putting both hooks in as Barbarena tried to get to his feet and the round ended with RDA on top after a dominant few minutes.
The second round saw Barbarena coming forward again and so RDA clinched up. Barbarena surprisingly dropped down for a takedown of his own but RDA defended it. When Barbarena separated he did not get away quick enough and RDA level changed and dragged Barbarena down partially. Bryan stayed up somewhat using the clinch and got back to his feet, whereupon RDA dropped on another double leg and landed it as his UFC octagon time passed eight hours, the most in promotional history. Another slick foot sweep dropped Barbarena to his back with RDA again in half guard.
Bryan tried to push off the fence and could not stand up with it but did regain half guard. RDA forced Barbarena to turn his back to him and got both hooks in. RDA then locked up a seemingly tight rear-naked choke. Barbarena refused to tap at first as he tried to peel his opponent’s hands away, but the grip and squeeze were too tight and he had to submit to the legend.
This was Rafael Dos Anjos’ twenty first win in the UFC, top five all time in the promotion. Another win, against a bigger man, up a weight class at age thirty eight was no shabby addition to his already prodigious resume which contains some of the best names of all time in both the win and loss column.
In his post-fight interview, RDA called out the biggest name in the sport, Conor McGregor, and alluded to the time they were supposed to fight six years ago. Towards the end of his career such a big fight, for the most money he will ever earn, makes a lot of sense.
Official Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Bryan Barbarena by Submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 3:20