Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is scheduled to fight striking sensation Rafael Fiziev in the UFC Vegas 58 main event on July 9 in Las Vegas and expects a “highlight reel performance” to result in a title shot by the end of the year.
Ex-champion Charles Oliveira, fresh off consecutive submission victories over Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier, is expected to compete for the vacant strap after losing it on the scale, but the promotion has yet to commit to a specific opponent.
Dos Anjos will be ready and waiting.
“He’s on his moment,” Dos Anjos told MMA Fighting. “Fighters, it’s all about the mentality. [Charles Oliveira has] got his mental [attitude] on point, and he’s very confident, but we all know he has been knocked out in his fights, and he quit a couple of times. But he’s on his moment right now. He’s very confident. He’s on a good win streak. I think guys knock him down, and they run away from his guard. I’m going to take the opportunity to be in his guard and punish him from the top. I think that would make a huge difference. These guys they knock him down, but they don’t capitalize on it.”
Dos Anjos (31-13) has racked up 10 submissions over his 18-year career but has never been tapped (or napped) in defeat. As for Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC), he’s on a torrid 11-fight win streak with 10 finishes, including seven submissions. In fact, “Do Bronx” has a staggering 21 subs in 33 wins with 18 performance bonuses.
Dos Anjos doesn’t sound too worried.
“If you see when he took [Dustin] Poirier down, [Poirier] just grabbed him and tried to eat the time,” Dos Anjos continued. “It looked like he was desperate while he was on bottom. I play well on the bottom. I’m a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and I know how to control the wrist and how to be calm on the bottom. With [Justin] Gaethje, he gave the back right away, and once you get in the scrambles and these guys give their back right away, that’s how Charles is good. I fought great guys that take backs very well, and they never took my back. I fought Michael Chiesa, Kevin Lee, even [Renato] Moicano, [and] they got close, but I know how to defend myself. These guys, they kind of get desperate and they give their back right away and that’s when you get choked.”
None of that matters unless Dos Anjos can beat Fiziev this weekend in “Sin City.”