UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is looking like a bigger and bigger problem for any welterweight contender hoping to capture the divisional title. Yet former UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos, who now competes at welterweight, believes he could be the man to dethrone Woodley – and he expects to have the opportunity to try pretty soon.
“As an ex-champ, I think the path [to the welterweight title] is shorter,” dos Anjos recently told MMAjunkie. “Demian (Maia) just had his shot at the belt and couldn’t get it. Tyron Woodley defended it. (Donald) Cerrone’s fight with (ex-champ) Robbie Lawler – I thought Cerrone won, but it was tough. In my opinion, Lawler wasn’t convincing, so I think that fight removed him from a possible title rematch. (Jorge) Masvidal lost to Demian.”
“Stephen Thompson will probably fight Masvidal and had two title fights already. I’m behind in the rankings, but the path is kind of open. I think with a win over (Neil) Magny, considering I’m an ex-champ, I think I’m pretty close. I’m not too far.”
Dos Anjos then explained how he’d do what Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia have both failed to do in order to defeat Woodley.
“He has that game of circling around, of not wanting to take risks,” dos Anjos said. “With me, he’s going to be at risk. I won’t let him feel comfortable. I think in his past two fights, he wasn’t in jeopardy. Stephen Thompson fought very technically and strategically. Not that I won’t use strategy and technique, but I have this (stronger) pace.
“I’ll push the pace and he’ll have to go to work. I won’t let him circle around – he’ll take me down, I’ll take him down, the fight will be a scramble. I’ll push his pace. And I think that’s when I’ll get the better of him.”
Finally, dos Anjos also snuck in a little jab at Woodley, suggesting that their fight might be what it takes to boost fan interest in the welterweight champ.
“I think after my fight with him, people might even buy his pay-per-view.”
How do you think a fight between Tyron Woodley and Rafael dos anjos would go?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/13/2017.