Rafael Dos Anjos should stay at lightweight as Stephen Thompson era approaches

The 155 pound champion sets his sights on a move up to welterweight, but RDA might want to reconsider as the Stephen Thompson era approaches.

Rafael Dos Anjos has made no secret of his desire to move up in weight, and it may well be his next move should he successfully defend against Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 90 – but for a man that cherishes legacy and not cheques, Dos Anjos should stay at lightweight as the Stephen Thompson era approaches.

In his open workout media scrum Dos Anjos mused over how much longer he can operate as a lightweight, citing that his cut to 155 pounds is tough. The Brazilian seems to be happy with his nutrition, the shape that he is in and the ‘mileage’ that is left on his body, but there seemed to be reservations.

Dos Anjos looked gaunt whilst faced with the microphones and lights of the media elite. He’s always looked like he has a difficult time shrinking to 155 pounds, so it begs the question, what weight does he actually walk around at?

The Brazilian was explicit in his chances of ever making 145 pounds – there is no chance. So he’s left with one option, a move up to welterweight, but whilst Thompson is on his course to UFC gold I see an ever decreasing window for Dos Anjos to jump through.

It was conceivable to think that Dos Anjos could fight the current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. There’s a shortfall in height and reach for Dos Anjos, sure, but fighting Thompson would present an even bigger problem in this area, and his long Karate stance would only accentuate this.

Dos Anjos and Lawler would be violent, both are aggressive fighters that like to come forward, they’d complement each other in that respect, but I see Lawler taking the victory, but I also see Thompson taking Lawler – so by proxy Thompson takes Dos Anjos, right?

Legacy is important to a fighter, and especially for Dos Anjos who prides himself on not being in it for the money, so his risks are calculated. Dos Anjos isn’t the biggest of lightweights and a prospective step up to 170 pounds would always be a challenge, but one that was surmountable, before Thompson. The way that Thompson dismantled Rory MacDonald has changed the welterweight landscape, for me, potentially driving a huge wedge between Dos Anjos and his aspirations. Thompson picks apart and counters those that walk forward, which is where I would see both Lawler and Dos Anjos falling short, that said, he’s also able to effectively deal with a more patient approach, as displayed against MacDonald.

Dos Anjos is a fighter much like Johny Hendricks, stumped by his genetics – too heavy to make the division below, too short to make an impact above – but in this sport you can never predict an outcome, so let’s see.