It wasn’t too long ago that Rafael dos Anjos was the king of the lightweights. He was 10-1 over an 11-fight stretch and in that span, he captured the UFC’s 155-pound crown.
His unanimous decision win over Anthony Pettis won him the title and he defended by spectacularly knocking out Donald Cerrone in 66 seconds in his first defense and it seemed at that juncture that the Brazilian might wind up being an all-time great. But a first-round stoppage loss to Eddie Alvarez lost him his throne and when Tony Ferguson defeated him via judges’ decision last November, his run as a top lightweight reached a resounding end.
As a result, dos Anjos will be making a significant change in 2017. Brazilian news outlet Combate reported that dos Anjos has abandoned the lightweight division and will now campaign as a full-fledged welterweight. A message on dos Anjos’ official Twitter account on Friday confirmed the report.
“I reached the top of LW, it’s been a hard journey make weight every time, now I want to fight at my best, I have new goals, I’m moving to WW,” he wrote.
Dos Anjos looked sluggish and out of sync in a lopsided loss against Ferguson, which resulted in him losing back-to-back bouts for the first time in nearly eight years. The Brazilian revealed that making the cut to 155 pounds had become too difficult in recent bouts.
“Between 2014 and 2015 I fought five times and after that, in this race for the belt, my body changed a little,” he explained to Combate. “In the fight against Cerrone, when I defended the belt for the first time, I already felt my body different. Against Eddie Alvarez was even worse, and in the fight with Tony Ferguson was already much more difficult.”
There is no word on when dos Anjos will return to the Octagon.