A much-anticipated match-up between Rafael dos Anjos and Nate Diaz was changed to a catchweight after Diaz failed to make weight on Friday, but it still had plenty of importance pertaining to the lightweight division. It was a huge opportunity for the Brazilian to make another splash and state his case for a title shot, while the much-scrutinized character that is Nate Diaz made his UFC return after more than a year away from the cage.
In the 1st round, dos Anjos made it a point to aggressively attack Nate’s lead leg with kicks, and Diaz failed to check virtually all of them. It forced Nate to switch stances and he was visibly limping as the leg kicks piled up, even as he was exchanging punches at a fairly high pace with Rafael. The round ended with Diaz flopping to the ground and Rafael pouncing with ground-and-pound, escaping a leg lock, and drilling Diaz with hard elbows and punches. Any succes Diazhad with his boxing was offset by Rafael’s leg kicks and overall striking.
Round 2 was more of the same. The leg kicks were relentless and dos Anjos was able to hurt Diaz with a counter left hook. A huge cut opened up on Diaz’s right eye from the brutal strikes by the Brazilian, and Diaz was on wobbly, injured legs throughout this period. The fight was momentarily stopped to check on Diaz’s cut, but it was just cleaned up and the fight continued.
Diaz actually threw a high kick in the 3rd round with his brutalized right leg, but he was taken down 30 seconds later and completely outclassed on the ground. Short, sharp elbows re-opened Diaz’s cut as dos Anjos showed no disdain for Nate’s guard and punished him right until the final horn.
Official result: Rafael dos Anjos def. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
It’s a 3rd win in 4 fights for dos Anjos (23-7), who has only been bested by Khabib Nurmagomedov dating back to 2012. He asked for a title shot in the post-fight interview. Nate Diaz (17-10) is now 1-3 in his last 4 and once again was completely overmatched against a top lightweight.
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