Rafael dos Anjos with a flash of his stellar resume can make a case to be called the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Dos Anjos will defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez in the UFC Fight Night “Dos Anjos vs. Alvarez” headliner on Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Their five-round battle for 155-pound gold will serve as the marquee attraction on a 12-fight card that will stream in its entirety to UFC Fight Pass.
A Kings MMA representative who has blossomed under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro, dos Anjos will enter the cage with the wind of a five-fight winning streak in his sails. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt last fought at UFC on Fox 17 in December, when he cut down Donald Cerrone with a first-round body kick and follow-up punches. It was over in 66 seconds. Wins over Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson strengthen dos Anjos’ claim as one of MMA’s best fighters at any weight.
Alvarez, 32, landed his title shot on the heels of back-to-back split decisions over Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. The Philadelphia native and former Bellator MMA champion boasts 21 finishes among his 27 career victories. Alvarez has a long track record of excellence at which to point, including wins over Michael Chandler, Shinya Aoki, Roger Huerta, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Joachim Hansen. In more than a decade as a professional, he has never lost two fights in a row.
With the dos Anjos-Alvarez showdown as the centerpiece, here are 10 facts surrounding UFC Fight Night 90:
FACT 1: The 31-year-old dos Anjos is one of seven men to have held the UFC lightweight championship. Pettis, Henderson, Frankie Edgar, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk and Jens Pulver are the others.
FACT 2: The four fighters who have beaten Alvarez -- Cerrone, Chandler, Aoki and Nick Thompson -- own a cumulative record of 122-30-1.
FACT 3: In his 16 appearances inside the Octagon, “The Ultimate Fighter 10” winner Roy Nelson has been awarded six post-fight performance bonuses worth a total of $305,000.
FACT 4: Former Legacy Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Derrick Lewis has finished seven opponents inside one round, including four since arriving in the UFC in 2014: Gabriel Gonzaga, Damian Grabowski, Carlos Augusto Inocente Filho and Jack May.
FACT 5: None of Alan Jouban’s 17 pro bouts have taken place in Las Vegas.
FACT 6: Undefeated at 9-0, Belal Muhammad ended a streak of five straight decision victories on April 30, when he dispatched Steve Carl with fourth-round punches to capture the Titan Fighting Championships welterweight title.
FACT 7: Still best known for his 38-second submission win over Conor McGregor under the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship banner, Joseph Duffy appeared on Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, submitting to a rear-naked choke from eventual semifinalist Kyle Watson in the qualification round.
FACT 8: Onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Mike Pyle has 16 submission wins to his credit: six by triangle choke, six by rear-naked choke, two by guillotine choke, one by armbar and one by kimura.
FACT 9: According to FightMetric data, Tristar Gym export John Makdessi ranks first all-time among UFC lightweights in significant strike defense at 72.9 percent. Edgar (71.8), Myles Jury (71.7), Gray Maynard (69.6), dos Anjos (69.4), Khabib Nurmagomedov (69.3), Justin Salas (68.9), Ross Pearson (68.6), Dennis Siver (68.5) and Yves Edwards (68.1) round out the top 10.
FACT 10: Jerrod Sanders in 2003 earned NCAA All-America honors at Oklahoma State University, where he wrestled alongside Shane Roller, Jake Rosholt and Muhammed Lawal.