Saturday night is a big night for Rafael dos Anjos as he will step into the Octagon to challenge Anthony Pettis for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 185. It’s been a long road for dos Anjos, but after a slow start to his UFC career, dos Anjos has emerged as one of the best lightweights in the world.

After compiling just a 4-4 record in his first eight bouts in the Octagon, dos Anjos has gone 8-1 in his last nine to earn this shot at the title. With wins over perennial contenders such as Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson, and Nate Diaz, dos Anjos has proven that he is as dangerous as they come in the cage.

But as good as dos Anjos has looked as of late, there are still questions that need to be answered.

Can dos Anjos slow Pettis down?

Everything in Pettis’ game thrives and his speed and movement. When Pettis has struggled or been in trouble it is when those aspects of his game are neutralized. Gilbert Melendez had the right idea in his failed title bid against Pettis, he just allowed Pettis to create too much distance.

If dos Anjos is going to have any shot at winning the title, he is going to need to take Pettis’ speed away and he is going to need to pressure him. A grinder by nature, dos Anjos could prove to be a difficult matchup for Pettis.

Can dos Anjos force Pettis into a dog fight?

As a dynamic technical striker, Pettis is at his best at distance. That is why closing the distance and putting pressure on Pettis will be critical for dos Anjos. He can’t let Pettis get into a rhythm and he must batter him on the inside. An effective Muay Thai practitioner, dos Anjos has the tools to be a monster in the clinch.

Does dos Anjos have the tools to be a UFC champion?

This is the big one. We all that dos Anjos is a talented fighter with a tireless work ethic, but is he a champion? There have been many great fighters over the years who have failed to capture UFC gold; Kenny Florian and Dan Henderson are two names that come to mind immediately. Very few fighters who were once viewed as journeymen have ever acceded to the pinnacle of the sport.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.