Las Vegas, NV — Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos returns to the welterweight division at UFC Vegas 78 this weekend — and he told Cageside Press at the event’s media day on Thursday that the move is official.
“I think for me, to compete at lightweight’s been pretty hard. I’m 39 in October, and I feel good at welterweight. I fought in this division before, fought for the title in the division, went the distance with the champion, and I decided to make the move, move up. That’s the weight that I’m going to be competing at from now on,” explained dos Anjos (32-14).
“Yeah that’s official,” continued RDA, adding just a little wiggle room. “If I have a fight that, like a super-fight that I’m going to make a very good amount of money, I would do that. I see that I still have this fight on Saturday and six more on my contract. I could tell you, if it was a lightweight fight, I could fight maybe three more times, four more times to be honest with you. It’s just too hard on my body. And I think at welterweight I can go longer, I can extend my career more.”
In 2019, current champ Leon Edwards faced off with dos Anjos, and didn’t seem willing to exchange, falling back on grappling. That despite Edwards’ own stand-up skill. Asked whether he expects Luque to take a similar approach, RDA explained that “he could, but it’s hard. I watched all his fights, he always comes to trade. He gets hit a lot too, he takes punches, so I will take advantage of it.” Adding that he’s “ready for any situation,” dos Anjos noted that “I’ve been working a lot on my clinch too, a lot on my ground game, wrestling with Team Nova Uniao. It’s been great for me being in Brazil the last two and a half years. But yeah, he could take that route.”
Speaking of Edwards, he’s expected to face Colby Covington soon, and dos Anjos gives “Chaos” the edge in that one.
“I think it’s a very tough match-up. I would say like 60/40, 60% chance for Colby to win this fight. I give Colby a slight advantage, his wrestling skills, and he’s got pretty good stand-up too, but I think he’s going to mix it up more with takedowns than [Kamaru] Usman did. And he has a better chance than Leon Edwards.”
As for the trend of MMA fighters moving to boxing late in their careers, dos Anjos agreed it hasn’t been the best showing. Case in point, Nate Diaz this past weekend. But there’s a reason so many are willing to make the jump, he added.
“I think MMA is too hard. It’s really hard, it’s hard to make a career, it’s hard to train for— you have to strike, you have to knee, you have to train on the ground, wrestling, everything,” explained dos Anjos. “I think guys that make the transition to boxing, it’s because it’s much easier training. You don’t have to suffer as much for a boxing camp as you do an MMA camp. And Nate Diaz and Jake Paul, he was way bigger than Nate. I didn’t watch the whole fight, I saw the results, but it wasn’t a good performance.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 78 media day appearance by Rafael dos Anjos above.