Rafael Dos Anjos Serves Notice to Lightweight Division with Decision Over Paul Felder
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Rafael Dos Anjos made a triumphant return to the lightweight division, earning a split decision victory over Paul Felder in the headline event at UFC 14 Vegas at the Apex in Las Vegas, Saturday night. Felder took the fight on just five days notice, filling in for Islam Makhachev. Felder was in the midst of training for a triatholon when the opportunity arose and endured a gruelling twenty-two pound weight cut in just four days to successfully make weight.
Dos Anjos held the advantage in the opening two rounds, securing takedowns in both frames and landing some heavy left hands when the two were on their feet. Felder had his moments, but spent most of the early going defending Dos Anjos’ takedown attempts, unable to muster any sustained attack of his own.
The third round proved to be more of the same, Dos Anjos taking down Felder again and while unable to inflict any serious ground and pound, his relentless pressure on Felder was definitely taking a toll. Felder came out strong to start round four but was unable to keep the fight in the center, and Dos Anjous successfully pressed Felder up against the fence. With just over a minute remaining, Dos Anjos landed a hard left, opening a serious cut above Felder’s right eye.
Felder fought gamely to start round five, but was bleeding profusely and was taken down by Dos Anjos with a full three minutes remaining. Dos Anjos landed a barrage of knees while Felder struggled to get to his feet, maintaining control to the end of the fight.
The final result was never in doubt but the split decision somewhat surprising, given the impressive performance by Dos Anjos. The win was the 30th in RDA’s storied career against 13 defeats and the first appearance in the lightweight division in four years for the former champion. With Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, the lightweight division is wide open and Dos Anjos and Felder are arguably both part of the title picture going forward.
In the co-main event, power punching welterweights Abdul Razak Alhassan and Khaos Williams squared off, with few expecting this one to go the distance. The fight more than lived up to expectations, with Williams needing just one devastating right hand thirty seconds in to knock out Alhassan and register a violent, shocking victory. The win was Williams’ second victory in two starts in the UFC and lasted just three seconds longer than his spectacular knockout victory over Alex Morono in his debut.
In a hard fought women’s strawweight tussle, veteran Ashley Yoder rode a dominant third round to earn a unanimous decision over Miranda Granger. Yoder had a rear naked choke locked in with just seconds remaining in the final round and while Granger was saved by the bell, it served as an exclamation point on an impressive performance by Yoder.
Sean Strickland, returning to the octagon just two weeks after defeating Jack Marshman , scored an impressive second round knockout over Brendan Allen in a catchweight scrap. Strickland peppered Allen with punches from the outset of the second stanza, before landing a chopping right hand that sent him to the mat, bringing the fight to a stunning end. Strickland, who had been sidelined for two years after suffering a motorcycle accident, delivered a message to the division that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
In another spirited women’s strawweight battle between highly touted 21 year old prospects, Cory McKenna captured her UFC debut with a unanimous decision over Kay Hansen. McKenna held a decided 156-87 edge in total strikes and reversed a takedown to change the tone of the final round and secure the decision. With the win McKenna improves her MMA record to 6-1.
The UFC returns to the Apex next week with the headliner a flyweight title clash between champion Deveison Figueiredo and Alex Perez. In the co-main, Valentina Shebchenko puts her flyweight title on the line against challenger Jennifer Maia.