When people talk Hall of Fame fighters or even best lighter-weight fighters of all-time, one name you should hear but likely won’t is Rafael dos Anjos.
At UFC Vegas 14, Rafael dos Anjos faced short-notice opponent Paul Felder and won by a decisive split decision. The short-notice fight brought a good amount of praise for Paul Felder, as it should, but it also goes to show Rafael dos Anjos doesn’t say the word “no.”
You can go to any MMA tracking site and look at the list of opponents for dos Anjos and see that he will fight anyone. Starting way back in his UFC debut against Jeremy Stephens.
Stephens was a young, up-start and dos Anjos was competitive in his debut until being knocked out with a combo of a flying knee and some ground and pound.
Rafael dos Anjos would earn a second fight in the UFC, but it would also be a loss as dos Anjos would fall to another hot prospect Tyson Griffin by unanimous decision. With one fight left to prove he belongs, dos Anjos would fight on short-notice against Rob Emerson at UFC 103 and earn his first UFC win by decision, but it wouldn’t be his last.
From 2010 to 2013, RDA would win eight of his ten fights in the UFC with his only losses coming by a broken jaw against Clay Guida and a controversial decision loss to Gleison Tibau.
The final win in that span was against fan favorite Donald Cerrone in which Rafael dos Anjos looked his best winning by unanimous decision. RDA would kick-off 2014 against rising prospect and undefeated wrestler Khabib Nurmagomedov, which means it was a loss for RDA.
The setback would set up RDA for the best run of his career as dos Anjos would then win three fights in a row including a finish of Benson Henderson and a decision win over Nate Diaz to earn his first UFC title shot.
At UFC 185, Rafael dos Anjos would upset World Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis by beating up the champion for five full rounds. The win solidified RDA as the best lightweight fighter in the world.
Dos Anjos would defend the title as well in a rematch against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone which RDA would this time finish “Cowboy” just a little over a minute into the first round.
Unforunatley, following the win over Cerrone, dos Anjos would lose the title to Eddie Alvarez by first-round TKO and would then lose his next fight in a Fight of the Night battle against Tony Ferguson.
With back to back losses, RDA would move up to 170 pounds to compete at welterweight and would face former Strikeforce Champion Tarec Saffiefine in his new weight class.
RDA would win the fight by decision beginning a new winning streak as he would also go on to defeat Neil Magny by first-round submission and would batter former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler in a five-round decision to earn a title shot now at welterweight.
This is where dos Anjos would hit a wall as the former Lightweight Champion would lose four of his next five fights from 2018 to early-2020 beginning with a one-sided loss for the interim Welterweight Championship to Colby Covington.
RDA would also fall to Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards and Michael Chiesa during this span with one win in the middle over Kevin Lee. Losing four of his last five fights would lead to retirement talk, but for dos Anjos, it was just another chance to reinvent himself which he would do back at lightweight.
On November 14th, Rafael dos Anjos would fight at 155 pounds for the first time since November of 2016 and would look outstanding against Paul Felder setting the table for another big name opponent some time in 2021.
All dos Anjos has ever fought it big names as you can see. Even the prospect names we didn’t mention were at one point in time up and comers such as Jason High, Evan Dunham, Anthony Njokuani, and George Sotiropoulos just to name a few.
The one fight that fell through for Rafael dos Anjos was against superstar Conor McGregor at UFC 196.
Dos Anjos suffered a broken foot and was unable to compete, but it’s a fight RDA still wants to this day and McGregor seems open to the idea as he prepares for a return to the UFC in 2021.
Regardless of what happens going forward, Rafael dos Anjos has earned the right to be called one of the greatest lightweights in UFC/MMA history for his track record of fighting whoever is put in front of him.
Win or lose, RDA has established himself as a Hall of Fame fighter and a legend in the sport and we can’t wait to see what he does next as he returns to the Octagon in 2021.