Rafael dos Anjos would return to lightweight for ‘fight that is worth it for the sacrifice’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – At 34, Rafael dos Anjos isn’t seeing much need to go back down to 155 pounds.

Sure, things haven’t been perfect since he moved to 170 – he’s on a two-fight losing streak – but he’s still a relevant player, as his main event status against Kevin Lee at UFC Rochester reinforces.

But that doesn’t mean dos Anjos (28-11 MMA, 17-9 UFC) can’t get the job done at lightweight. RDA held the belt from 2015-16 before moving up as he got older. And while his focus remains on welterweight, he admits that the thought of going back to 155 crosses his mind. But only under the right circumstances.

Like, say, a title shot or a big-money fight against Conor McGregor, a bout that was scheduled for UFC 196 before dos Anjos had to pull out with a broken foot. 

“Me and Conor, we’ve been scheduled to fight I think twice,” dos Anjos told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “But we almost, I broke my foot two weeks before that fight, and I didn’t know, but we (were) about to fight in Brazil for the interim welterweight title, that’s what I heard, but I think that fight, if I get several weeks’ notice, like  3-4 months notice, I think I can make that sacrifice.”

Lee (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), for his part, will experience the flip side of this phenomenon Saturday when he makes the jump up to welterweight after a career spent at lightweight, which featured some bad weight cuts along the way.

Dos Anjos recalls his first welterweight bout against Tarec Saffedine in 2017. While he won the fight, he tired as it unfolded, and he expects Lee to face a similar struggle. 

“I think definitely I remember when I had my first welterweight fight with Tarec Saffedine in Singapore, that was a three-round fight, and I got really tired, and I was in good shape, but it took a while to make the adjustments that I need, and now I’m feeling fully adjusted in this division,” dos Anjos said. “But I think for him to come in a fight with me in a five-round fight, he’s going to feel that. I feel that I the have the advantage in this one.”

And that plays into why RDA ls likely to stay at 170, even though he doesn’t rule out his old weight class. 

“If I would, I would probably have to have at least three months’ notice that I could do the right transition, and I got to change my whole schedule, my whole diet, it’s going to be hard, and it’s got to be the fight that is worth it for the sacrifice,” dos Anjos said. “But as of now, I’m just thinking to be on welterweight.”

UFC on ESPN+ 10 takes place Saturday at Blue Cross Arena. The card streams on ESPN+.

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 10, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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