It wasn’t easy — not by a long shot — but former Lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos, tonight (Sat., March 5, 2022) returned to the 155-pound division (160 pounds, if we are being technical) for the first time since Nov. 2020, squaring up with late-notice replacement, Renato Moicano, in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event of UFC 272, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
dos Anjos — who toiled in the 170-pound weight class for about three years — was eager to climb back into a future Lightweight title shot, while Moicano — who might have the most impressive resume in the weight class today — was motivated to jump the line with a win over the No. 6-ranked contender in the division.
In the end, the fight, which was scheduled for five, five-minute rounds, was XXXXXXX
Moicano jumps out if his corner with a high kick, then a kick to the stomach, followed by a hard right cross. He used the momentum to mush dos Anjos against the fence and tried to take his back standing, but “RDA” slipped out. Moicano was able to get him up against the fence, where the two traded shots on the release, with dos Anjos scoring a takedown off a wild hook that missed. Moicano back to his feet quick, with the two trading in the pocket for a bit before dos Anjos scored another big takedown off a missed hook. dos Anjos, from side control, tried to jump into full mount, but Moicano defended well off his back. dos Anjos was able to create some space, posture up and started to land some serious ground-and-pound. Big elbow from dos Anjos, but somehow it didn’t appear to affect Moicano. Moicano struggled to wriggle free, but dos Anjos wasn’t having it, continuing his assault from top position until the round came to a close.
Kick to the belly from dos Anjos started off the second stanza, with Moicano already looking a bit tired after five minutes of action. Stiff jab from Moicano, with dos Anjos firing back with a solid combination upstairs, which he used to close the distance and get behind Moicano. He dragged him to the canvas briefly, but Moicano was able to get back to his feet quickly. Uppercut from Moicano founds its mark, but dos Anjos slipped under another punch and scored another easy takedown. And dos Anjos just repeated what he did in the first round — smothering ground-and-pound until the bell.
Moicano was clearly winded between rounds, with dos Anjos looking like he just took a light stroll through the park. Moicano opened up with a lazy jab, with dos Anjos countering with a shot to the mid-section then a hard follow up kick. Another hard kick scored for dos Anjos, with Moicano unable to land anything significant. Low kick from dos Anjos, then a nice uppercut combination from Moicano finally found a home upstairs. Combinations from dos Anjos, then a high kick, that wobbled Moicano bad. dos Anjos jumped in for the finish, with Joe Rogan claiming he was “out,” but he was nowhere near. He was getting pounded pretty bad regardless, dropping elbows in the middle of the Octagon. Moicano slid to his side, trying to escape and push him away, but dos Anjos was on him like white on rice. dos Anjos looked like he was angling for a submission, or just taking a quick break, before dropping a heavy elbow on Moicano’s face. Moicano continued to just bear hug dos Anjos from the bottom until the round mercifully came to a close.
Moicano’s face was a mess between rounds — his right eye swollen shut. He got up from hi stool to start the fourth round, but not before the referee requested a quick visit from the ringside physician before continuing. He apparently passed the vision test and the fight continued ... and he started the action with a hard knee to dos Anjos’ chin. Straight right hand slipped through dos Anjos’ defenses, then another big combination moments later. dos Anjos retreated for a moment, but then got the fight horizontal little more than one minute into the round. Smothering control from dos Anjos, who wasn’t really doing as much as he had been in terms of keeping busy on top. He landed some nice elbows, but Moicano was doing a good job of wrist control and bear hugs to mitigate the damage. dos Anjos popped the mouse under Moicano’s eye, with blood pouring from his face. Somehow he was able to escape and get to his feet, wobbling back to his corner.
The referee gave Moicano a warning — he needs to come alive in 30 seconds or the fight would be stopped. He made it, but it was because dos Anjos wasn’t that busy to start the final frame. Head kick from Moicano, with dos Anjos coasting, perhaps content to win a decision rather than delivering more punishment. Then 90 seconds in, dos Anjos scored a takedown, with Moicano pushing him off from rubber guard. Big knee to the body from Moicano, then a sprawl as dos Anjos put together a solid combination upstairs. Left hook from dos Anjos, with Moicano responding with a solid uppercut. Moicano put on a gutsy attack down the stretch, getting the crowd on its collective feet, but dos Anjos wisely just played keep away until the final bell.
In the end, dos Anjos coasted to a very dominant — and punishing — unanimous decision win. The former champion is once again back in the title chase, while Moicano goes back to the drawing board, awaiting the next big assignment.
Kudos to both men for putting on a 25-minute fight on just a few days’ notice. And welcome back, champ.
Final result: dos Anjos def. Moicano via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-44 and 50-44)
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