Anytime there is a match-up between two UFC lightweights, it is an important fight, considering the stacked nature of the division. This is the case for a UFC on FX 8 main-card bout this Saturday that pits Rafael dos Anjos against Evan Dunham.

The headliner, which features Vitor Belfort and Luke Rockhold, is getting much attention from fans in Brazil, but don’t sleep on dos Anjos vs. Dunham possibly stealing the show.

Dos Anjos has been with the UFC since 2008, but has yet to take the next step towards becoming a top contender. However, the Brazilian is on a three-fight winning streak, with his last victory coming against Mark Bocek at UFC 154. Dos Anjos has knockout ability, as shown against George Sotiropoulos, who he finished in just 59 seconds. But the BJJ black belt is also very game on the ground.

In 2010, it appeared Dunham was the next big thing to come out of the 155-pound division. He won his first four bouts with the promotion, but then the 31-year-old hit a speed bump when he faced tougher opponents, losing back-to-back fights to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard. Dunham has bounced back to win three of his last four fights, but desperately needs a win to solidify himself as a true contender.

Both lightweights have certainly had their ups and downs. With a win for either man on Saturday, how close exactly are they away from a title shot?

Let’s run down the landscape of the division as it currently stands. Benson Henderson holds the belt and is expected to give the next shot at the belt to the winner of a UFC 160 bout between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant. From there, there are many other names in the mix, aside from dos Anjos and Dunham. Josh Thomson is possibly one win away after an impressive performance over Nate Diaz, Pat Healy improved his stock by submitting Jim Miller (although the fact that Healy tested positive for marijuana could complicate that situation), and names such as Gilbert Melendez and Donald Cerrone still sit in the top 10.

Dos Anjos is a borderline top-10 lightweight, according to the UFC rankings. Dunham is top 15, as an estimate, but isn’t far behind. But even if both were clear top-1o lightweights, they will need to wait their turn for a title shot.

The likely scenario is that dos Anjos and Dunham will need to win at least two more fights following their match-up at UFC on FX 8. That seems like a long time, but in all honestly, they won’t get a title shot before year’s end. Henderson is only going to fight, at most, two more times this year. One of those defenses will be against the Maynard-Grant winner, and the other could be against Thomson, Healy, Cerrone or a rematch against Melendez. Also, you can’t forget about Anthony Pettis, who could move back to 155 pounds if he loses to Jose Aldo for the featherweight title.

As long as dos Anjos or Dunham continues to put together a string of impressive wins, they will get their chance in the future. Right now, the focus should be on taking out every man put in their path. The title should not even cross their minds.

Photo: Evan Dunham (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.