After falling short at UFC Vegas 78, what’s next for Rafael Dos Anjos?

Jul 20, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Leon Edwards (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at AT&T Center. Edwards won by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC Vegas 78, we saw a showdown in the welterweight division. Former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (32-15) was looking to pickup his second straight win at 170 as he welcomed back to the octagon, Vicente Luque (22-9-1).

Luque had a lot of question marks entering Saturday night. He had been one of the premier contenders at 170 pounds, however, he had lost two straight entering Saturday. The latter of the two losses was a devastating loss against Geoff Neal which forced him to take a year off.

RDA looked great in his return to welterweight against Bryan Barberena at the end of last year. Between the question marks around Luque and the consistency of RDA, I figured the former champion was in a good position to pick up a big win that would get him back into the rankings at 170 pounds.

While Luque has solid grappling, I figured RDA would get the better of the grappling exchanges at UFC Vegas 78. Between his wrestling, pressure, and combinations, I was expecting him to win a decision. However, Luque proved to be the stronger guy in the grappling and would constantly get the better positions.

He was also just a step ahead throughout the night in the striking exchanges. It was a close fight, but I had Luque winning 3-1 entering the final round. RDA came on strong and won the round, but I didn’t have him winning and ultimately, he lost a decision.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 78?

RDA finds himself in a very interesting spot in his career. I don’t believe the former UFC champion is in a position where he needs to retire. He definitely has plenty left in the tank. However, I also don’t believe his championship material at 170 pounds or at 155.

Given his age, I know he prefers to stay at 170 to avoid the massive weight cut to 155. That being said, he would be more competitive against better competition at 155. The strength disadvantage is just too much at welterweight. However, I do expect him to stay at welterweight so the UFC will need to find him a matchup there.

One opponent I like is veteran Gunnar Nelson. Nelson would be a very interesting matchup given his grappling skills and unique striking. Like RDA, Nelson is a guy just outside the top fifteen and has won two straight. It’s a great fight for both men. For RDA, he could get back on track against a solid welterweight. For Nelson, he could get a win over a former UFC champion and potentially challenge for a rankings spot.