Rafael dos Anjos believes win over Kamaru Usman at TUF 28 Finale has him right back in title range

LAS VEGAS – The talk this week around the TUF 28 Finale main event seems to be centered on the chances one of the fighters could get a title shot.

But if you ask former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos (28-10 MMA, 17-8 UFC), people ought to be asking if he could be back in the title picture, too, not just his highly touted (and favored) opponent, Kamaru Usman (13-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC).

Dos Anjos and Usman meet in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale, which takes place Friday at the Pearl Theatre at The Palms in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Dos Anjos said the fight with Usman was appealing to him because he believed it was the kind of win that could get him a welterweight title shot. In June, he lost an interim 170-pound title fight to Colby Covington.

“Looking at the rankings, it’s kind of messed up a little bit,” dos Anjos today told MMAjunkie. “We just had the (Darren) Till loss (to champion Tyron Woodley), and now he’s not fighting at welterweight anymore. I fought (former champion) Robbie (Lawler) already. The only guy I saw that could put me back in the title picture would be Kamaru Usman.”

But given dos Anjos is coming off a decision loss to Covington at UFC 225, would a win over Usman be enough to get him another crack at the title?

“I think so,” dos Anjos said. “I’m focused 100 percent on Friday now, but I think it would be a huge step back toward the title. I don’t see any other names in there. We’ll see. I’m excited for Friday and I can’t wait to get it done. I’m ready for all situations.”

Part of the challenge for dos Anjos likely will be Usman’s wrestling prowess. Given he’s coming off a loss to another wrestler in Covington, dos Anjos said he had some detractors asking him if a fight with Usman was the right move.

But any doubters were quickly rebuffed.

“A lot of people asked me, ‘Hey man, coming off a loss to a wrestler, you’re going to fight another wrestler? Tough guy? Shouldn’t you take an easier fight?’” dos Anjos said. “I never took an easy fight. If you look at my career since Day One in the UFC, I never choose opponents. I think he’s the guy to put me back in the title picture. I know he’s a tough guy, but I know I have what it takes to bring it home.”

“I know I wasn’t at my best with Colby. I wasn’t at my best at all. Now I’m at my best. I feel good. I closed all the gaps that were open before. I want to prove people wrong. I love that. I love beating the odds. I love when people think I’m going to lose and I go there and prove everybody wrong. That’s what motivates me.”

For more from dos Anjos, check out the video above.

And for more on the TUF 28 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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