Dos Anjos returns to lightweight division with win over Felder
It was pretty set-in stone that Rafael Dos Anjos was going to be in the main event of UFC Vegas 14.
Against who, was in question for a little while.
Dos Anjos defeated Paul Felder via split decision in a lightweight contest Saturday, Nov. 14 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
It had been four years since Dos Anjos last competed as a lightweight.
The former division champion debuted November 15, 2008 and had the second-highest most fight time in UFC history.
He was originally scheduled to fight Islam Makachev, who was forced to withdraw due to an infecftion.
Dos Anjos went from game planning for a southpaw wrestler to preparing for an orthodox striker when Felder stepped in on five days notice.
Originally expecting to call the fight, Felder came out of retirement to drop 22 pounds to get into just his second main event of his career.
On the other hand, Dos Anjos was gearing up for his 11th main event, having gone the full 25-minutes six times.
Both fighters are 36 years old but Dos Anjos has twice as much UFC experience as his opponent.
Felder entered as a +170 underdog.
Dos Anjos found success early in the fight with a carved body kick that reddened the midsection of Felder.
Battling back, Felder landed a spinning back elbow that cut Dos Anjos.
In a response effort, Dos Anjos landed a takedown only to have Felder fight right back to his feet.
At that point, both fighters attempted a takedown at the same time resulting in a stalemate.
There was more clinchwork in the second round with RDA finding more success with his left hand later in the round.
Felder, however, found the mark with some elbows as well before RDA executed a foot sweep taking the fight to the ground.
Looking to wrestle more, Dos Anjos attempted a takedown early in the third round but was not successful.
He would later secure it.
Before the start of the main event rounds, RDA connected on another takedown, this time a slam to Felder which served as his fourth takedown in the first three rounds.
Feeling he needed a finish, Felder blitzed Dos Anjos at the start of the fourth round, taking the center of the octagon.
Dos Anjos responds by clinching Felder and landing a blow that cut him right between the eyebrows.
In a surprising twist, Felder landed a takedown just before the end of the fourth round.
That burst of energy from Felder appeared to be his final solid effort as RDA took him down in the fifth and final round and controlled the position for the majority of the five minutes.
During the fifth round, Dos Anjos passed UFC bantamweight Frankie Edgar for most-octagon time in history.
It was dubbed the fight of the night as RDA got two judges to score the bout 50-45 while one saw it 48-47 in favor of Felder.
Dos Anjos managed to secure over 14 minutes of control time, six on the ground and 8:15 in the clinch.
The former Lightweight champion took Felder down six times but the Irish Dragon managed to gain four passes to Dos Anjos’ one.
While on the feet, it was a slugfest with the winner landing 67 percent of his total strikes while his opponent landed 59 percent.
Both fighters threw at least 225 total strikes.
RDA is now 30-13 in his professional career after beating the seventh ranked Felder. It also ends a two-fight losing streak for him.
With the division now open since the retirement of former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, it’s unclear what’s next for Dos Anjos.
Felder is now 17-6 after admitting he had not seen a mixed martial arts gym in four months.
He cited originally training for a triathlon and light pad work as his only training methods.
In a surprise moment, Felder took time to call out fighters who have a hard time making weight considering his acceptance of the fight and weight cut in five days.
However, he did call the Thursday before the fight “one of the darkest days” of his life.
Also citing the retirement of Nurmagomedov, Felder announced to UFC President Dana White that he was reversing his decision to claim retirement and is jumping back into the fold.
In the welterweight co-main event, Khaos Williams knocked out Abdul Razak Alhassan in a bout that lasted 30 seconds.
Williams, also known as “The Ox Fighter,” won his last fight in similar fashion in a shorter, 27 seconds.
The 26-year-old is now 11-1 in his professional career with plenty of eyes on him.