Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos clashed last night (Dec. 16, 2017) at UFC on FOX 26 inside the Bell MTS Center in Winnipeg, Canada.
Two weeks ago, Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje battled for the unofficial title of Lightweight’s most violent man. There’s been no such contest at Welterweight, because Lawler — win or lose — has had that title on his mantle since his return to the UFC.
“RDA” may not be able to match the pure violence potential of Robert Glenn Lawler, but that’s not a real knock against him. Even at his new home of 170 lbs., dos Anjos has been walking men down and putting the hurt on them to great results.
Both men looked sharp at the start, as dos Anjos went to work with some brutal kicks and Lawler’s punches smoothly fired out of the chamber. Lawler took the role of pressure fighter, but that left his lead leg more vulnerable to the Brazilian’s calf kicks, which had a serious effect just a couple minutes into the round.
Lawler flurried in response, but “RDA” wrapped him up in a double-collar tie and dug some heavy knees to the body. After eating another calf kick, Lawler ran himself into the clinch on purpose and looked to dirty box. This time, neither man was really able to take over from that range, as they traded small strikes and position along the fence until the bell.
The “Ruthless” athlete landed some good strikes in the first five minutes, but it was clearly dos Anjos’ round.
Lawler opened the second with extra aggression, and the two traded heavy shots with dos Anjos’ back to the fence. Lawler landed the better shots, but dos Anjos circled off and land a clean combination of his own. Notably, the right hook to the body from dos Anjos backed Lawler off, allowing the Brazilian a big chance to flurry with his foe trapped.
Despite eating some heavy shots, Lawler kept his defense tight and rolled a lot of shots. Once “RDA” was tired from firing a few dozen punches, Lawler returned to pressuring and looking for his heavy shots. He backed dos Anjos up with a good jab, reversing positions and putting his foe on the fence. Working at range and in the clinch, Lawler landed good shots until the bell as the Brazilian caught his breath.
It was likely 2-0 in favor of dos Anjos, but the Brazilian was tired as he walked to his corner.
Lawler backed his opponent into the fence again to start the third, but dos Anjos reversed him and landed his first takedown of the bout. Lawler nearly gave up his back along the fence, but he did a great job of scrambling out underneath the jiu-jitsu black belt.
Back on the feet, Lawler’s began to find success with his dirty boxing. Lawler drove his forehead into dos Anjos’ jaw to nullify the double-collar tie, and he hammered at the mid-section with punches. Just as Lawler really seemed to be getting momentum back in his corner, a short elbow from the Brazilian rocked his foe and allowed him to take top position.
He followed up with heavy elbows, stealing back the round.
Despite all the damage he had absorbed, Lawler continued to push forward into the championship rounds. His lead leg was badly damage, which made Lawler look quite a bit less devastating. Lawler was worn down, which helped dos Anjos survive some bad spots on the fence.
“RDA” also caught his second wind in the fourth. He jammed Lawler into the fence and chewed him up with clinch strikes, mixing elbows and takedown attempts into his offense well. Lawler landed a few clean counter blows, but it wasn’t nearly enough to deter the Brazilian.
Heading into the fifth, Lawler was down four rounds and could barely walk. Normally, a corner stoppage would be a reasonable call, but Robbie Lawler is famous for his fifth round rallies.
Hardly able to stand on his own, Lawler put his back on the fence and leaned on it. Lawler had no real hopes for victory other than to catch his opponent coming in, like he did to Melvin Manhoef years ago. Dos Anjos, however, was too crafty for that, as he mostly chose to work from in the clinch, a much harder range to land a one-punch knockout.
The Brazilian worked his opponent from that range until the final bell.
First and foremost, let’s talk about Robbie Lawler. I don’t know if Lawler entered with a previous leg injury or it was entirely due to his foe’s kicks, but Lawler fought more than half of the bout without being able to push off on his leg. Lawler needed his power punches to win the fight, and that injury took his greatest weapon away from him.
Once that happened, Lawler was largely a sitting duck, hoping for that 1-in-a-1000 perfect counter shot.
Unfortunately for fans of the “Ruthless” one, that didn’t happen. He’s now suffered two high-level losses in his previous three fights, a sign that Lawler’s time as a title contender is over. On the bright side, there are many non-top five strikers for him to face.
We both know Robbie Lawler vs. Mike Perry would be must-watch violence in a few months.
This was really a masterclass from dos Anjos. He utilized all his weapons from every range to really break Lawler down, knocking him from the most dangerous knockout artist at 170 lbs. to a man who could barely stand up.
At range, dos Anjos kicked the hell out of his opponent, landing low kicks and switch-kicks to the body repeatedly. In the boxing range, he targeted the body frequently as well. Finally, dos Anjos scored in the clinch with cutting elbows, driving knees to the mid-section, and brief flurries. It was a great display of kickboxing and experience, proof that “RDA” is a true contender.
He may just have earned a title shot.
Last night, Rafael dos Anjos showcased the full depth of his kickboxing to batter his opponent for five rounds. Is ‘RDA’ a future Welterweight champion?
For complete UFC on FOX 26 “Lawler vs. Dos Anjos” results and play-by-play, click HERE!