After last night’s stunning upset over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, many were singing the praises of Rafael dos Anjos. While the victory was undoubtedly huge, it didn’t change the immediate lightweight title picture in the manner folks were saying it did.
Henderson was stuck in no man’s land after two losses to current champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Ironically, Pettis has yet to defend that title in the year in which he’s held it, while Henderson battled to get himself in the title conversation again. A pending December bout between Pettis and Gil Melendez would have been crucial to Henderson’s title hopes, but he had to keep winning.
Dos Anjos dashed those championship aspirations. His somewhat disputed, but still impressive, finish of Henderson was unlike anything anyone has seen against the former title holder, and he certainly deserves respect for it. Even after that win, dos Anjos is fourth or fifth in line.
Just four months ago, dos Anjos lost to unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov. Due to his meniscus injury, people seem to be writing Nurmagomedov out of title plans. With the Pettis vs. Melendez fight more than three months away, Nurmagomedov has plenty of time to heal up and is hoping for a January return. That may not even matter if the injury prone Pettis slips on the inevitable banana peel.
Forget that dos Anjos lost this spring, that’s not all in his way. Current Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is set for a huge clash against fan-favorite Donald Cerrone at the end of September. Alvarez’s stock has shot through the roof in recent years, and could very well be just one win away from a championship opportunity.
Sure, what dos Anjos accomplished at UFC Fight Night 49 was incredible, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start theoretically handing out PPV main events all willy nilly. Dos Anjos has plenty of work to do, and plenty of time to do it.