UFC Fight Night: Lawler vs. Dos Anjos Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Winnipeg, Canada.
Updated: Dec. 14, 2017 • 10:27 AM ET
Robbie Lawler is attempting to reclaim UFC gold.
Robbie Lawler has slowly climbed the hill back to a title rematch with welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, but former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos plans to send him tumbling down the welterweight rankings on Saturday in Winnipeg. The fight between Lawler and Dos Anjos headlines a loaded UFC Fight Night card in Canada.
Coming off a unanimous decision victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 in July, Lawler is ranked second in the welterweight division. He truly needed the win over Cerrone, as he attempted to rebound from a bad knockout loss to Woodley at UFC 201 in July 2016. Lawler took nearly a year off after the loss to Woodley, and he’s looking to get back the title he held and defended in impressive fashion for two years.
The 35-year-old Lawler has
experienced two stints with the UFC, experiencing his most success the second time around. He defeated Johny Hendricks in a rematch to win the title at UFC 181 in 2014 and followed that result by successfully defending the title twice, bouts that will go down as two of the greatest fights in UFC history.
The first of Lawler’s title defenses was an absolute war with Rory MacDonald, during which Lawler was badly hurt multiple times. Nevertheless, he used guts and will to earn himself a knockout victory in the fifth round.
In what was a back-and-forth striking display, Lawler then won a split decision over Carlos Condit at UFC 195. Many believe it was those two grueling title defenses that made Lawler susceptible to Woodley’s power, which resulted in a quick first round knockout for Woodley. Since then, Lawler has put himself back into the title conversation by taking time off and defeating Cerrone.
Since a unanimous decision loss to Tony Ferguson last November, Dos Anjos has found new life in the welterweight division. He has won two straight fights over Tarec Saffiedine and No. 11 ranked welterweight Neal Magny, respectively. The win against Magny at UFC 215 in September won Performance of the Night honors, as Dos Anjos quickly finished Magny via submission in the first round.
At the UFC 217 pre-fight press conference last month, UFC president Dana White said the winner between Dos Anjos and Lawler will get the next shot at Woodley’s title. This seems to ring more true than ever after colitis has sidelined former middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. There were talks of a fight between St-Pierre and Woodley prior to the disclosure of his illness, but he’s out indefinitely.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a featherweight fight between Ricardo Lamas and Josh Emmett. Lamas is the third-ranked fighter in the division and was originally scheduled to fight Jose Aldo in a rematch in Winnipeg. However, the UFC pulled Aldo from the card to replace Frankie Edgar, who suffered an injury prior to his title fight with Max Holloway at UFC 218 earlier this month.
Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak, last defeating Jason Knight by first-round knockout at UFC 214 in July. He’s a former title challenger, and his last loss was to featherweight champion Holloway. A win over Knight would keep Lamas in the title conversation, but he’ll likely have to wait until after another scheduled fight between Holloway and Edgar.
Emmett recently moved down to the featherweight division after starting his UFC career as a lightweight. He defeated Felipe Arantes in October and is 3-1 in the UFC, but Lamas will certainly be the most difficult challenge of his career.
Rest of the main card
Also on the main card is a welterweight fight with heavy rankings implications between No. 10 Santiago Ponzinibbio and Mike Perry. Ponzinibbio has won his last five fights and most recently defeated No. 13 Gunnar Nelson in July. He’s 7-2 in the UFC, and a sixth straight win would likely shoot Ponzinibbio up the rankings of a loaded division.
Perry is 4-1 in the UFC and most recently defeated Alex Reyes by first round knockout in September. His reckless style and desire to trade shots has gained him immediate exposure, but Ponzinibbio will definitely represent the most dangerous striker he has faced. An early finish in this fight doesn’t seem unlikely for either fighter.
Rounding out the main card is a light heavyweight fight between No. 3 Glover Teixeira and No. 7 Misha Cirkunov. Teixeira last fought in May, losing a five-round battle to Alexander Gustafson by knockout. The 38-year-old Teixeira is a former title challenger and still looks dangerous in an old division.
Cirkunov won his first four fights in the UFC all by finish, but was knocked out in the first round by Volkan Oezdemir in May. Due to the freak nature of how the knockout occurred, several questions arose after the fight. Does Oezdemir have that much power, or is Cirkunov unable to take a clean shot? Teixeira most certainly has punching power capable of answering the questions surrounding Cirkunov’s chin.
Light heavyweight fight - No. 14 Jared Cannonier vs. No. 15 Jan Blachowicz
Middleweight fight - Julian Marquez vs. Darren Stewart
Welterweight fight - Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bofando
Flyweight fight - No. 11 Tim Elliott vs. Pietro Menga
Lightweight fight - John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo
Middleweight fight - Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Welterweight fight - Jordan Mein vs. Erick Silva
Welterweight fight - Nordine Taleb vs. Danny Roberts