Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos moved up to welterweight to face former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine today (Sat., June 17, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 111 live on Fight Pass from inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.
Dos Anjos and Saffiedine both badly needed a win to get their careers back on track, having each dropped two fights in a row.
Saffiedine took the center of the cage early, throwing a couple high kicks. Dos Anjos responded with a body kick. Saffiedine caught a second body kick and took dos Anjos down, advancing to half guard while dos Anjos looked for the kimura from the bottom. It didn’t pan out, and dos Anjos switched to a deep half guard, grabbing a single leg. Saffiedine sprawled on the single and they got to their feet, Saffiedine pushing RDA back to the fence in the clinch. They separated and exchanged in the center of the cage. Dos Anjos pushed Saffiedine to the fence this time and took him down. He passed the guard and went for a kimura again, from the top this time, but Saffiedine drove to his feet and escaped. Dos Anjos threw a switch knee and drove Saffiedine back to the cage once more, trying to keep the pressure on. Dos Anjos begins to land with hooks to the body and then a right hook upstairs before the bell sounds for round one.
Saffiedine forgot his mouthguard to start Round 2. He came out jabbing and throwing leg kicks, trying to stay mobile in the open space of the cage. RDA pushed forward, throwing body kicks. He missed with a hook and Tarec reversed him against the cage. Dos Anjos got a high-crotch single leg and picked Saffiedine up, but Tarec did well to stay on his feet. Saffiedine looked for a takedown of his own on the cage but dos Anjos countered with a headlock, snapping Tarec’s head down and landing a knee the commentary team called illegal, though the referee did nothing. Saffiedine got back to his feet and dos Anjos looked for a single-leg, but Tarec exploded out of the clinch with an elbow. They exchanged before going back to the clinch, trading positions against the cage. Separating, they trade at close range, RDA landing hooks and Saffiedine getting in some of his chopping leg kicks. RDA ended the round pushing Saffiedine against the cage once more.
Dos Anjos opened the third round with a heavy body kick. Saffiedine switched stances, looking for a little space, and landed a right hook. Dos Anjos landed a left straight. They traded jabs. Saffiedine was more active with his lead hand, while dos Anjos stalked and threw heavy body and arm kicks. The pace had slowed a little from the grinding clinch work of the first two rounds. Dos Anjos stepped in with a hook to the body. Tarec slipped an RDA punch and countered with a hook. RDA stepped into the clinch once more and they traded knees. Saffiedine tried for a takedown, but dos Anjos countered with an elbow and a snapdown that got him back into open space as the fight wore to a conclusion. Dos Anjos had the edge in pace, in the clinch and in the grappling.
In the post-fight interview, dos Anjos said that he had been training in Singapore since 2009 with Evolve Fight Team, and promises to do a lot in this division. Great win for the former lightweight champion, which will open up some interesting matchups for him in the future.
Official result: Rafael dos Anjos def. Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision (30-27×2, 29-28)
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