Still scheduled to make his lightweight division return this weekend at UFC Vegas 14, former division champion, Rafael dos Anjos has expressed his interest in finally matching opposite former two-weight world champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor – after a couple of previous close calls.
dos Anjos was initially slated to headline this weekend’s Las Vegas event in a reworked bout with surging grappler, Islam Makhachev until the Russian was forced to withdraw from the matchup due to a staph infection.
In the American Kickboxing Academy’s place on just five-days notice steps perennial contender, Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder who makes his first Octagon walk since February this year, in a short-notice, five-round, 155-pound pairing.
Rio de Janeiro native, dos Anjos had enjoyed a successful stint at welterweight originally since his move to the ranks back in June 2017, and in an eight-fight stay, amassed a 4-4 record. Dropping his last two consecutively, however, the Evolve MMA mainstay had found himself on the wrong end of decision defeats to first, Leon Edwards, and in January at UFC Fight Night Raleigh, grappler, Michael Chiesa.
Set for a change of pace and a return to his old stomping grounds, dos Anjos noted his intentions to score a matchup with McGregor following a successful outing against short-notice opposition, Felder this Saturday night.
“Tony Ferguson was interim champion,” dos Anjos explained to MMA Fighting recently. “Dustin Poirier, interim champion, Justin Gaethje, interim champion. The only champions in that division was (sic) me and Conor (McGregor), and I think that’s the fight to make. I think the division is wide open, so why not? I want that fight.“
Originally scheduled to defend his 155-pound throne opposite McGregor at UFC 196 in 2016, dos Anjos suffered a broken metatarsal in his left foot prior to the headlining clash, ruling him from proceedings. Two years later, a pairing with McGregor was briefly floated once more, and once again, failed to land on that occasion as well. Ahead of 2021, dos Anjos has claimed that a pairing with the Dubliner would still be an intriguing fight to the mixed martial arts community.
“We [me and McGregor] got close [to a fight] twice,” dos Anjos said. “I think that’s the fight that a lot of fans want to see, especially with me returning to lightweight. We were scheduled to fight, and unfortunately, it’s a combat sport. I broke my foot, but here I am again, training hard, working hard and I can’t wait.“
While dos Anjos is currently booked to clash with Felder on November 14th. – McGregor is also closing in on a high-stakes lightweight rematch against the above-mentioned, Poirier, with the UFC and the latter agreeing terms on a deal for the pencilled UFC 257 January 23rd. date, ahead of a potential return to ‘Fight Island’.