This Saturday in the main event of UFC Rochester, former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos is set to take on Kevin Lee who is moving up to welterweight. The Brazilian, who is currently ranked third in the welterweight division, is looking to get back into the win column.
Although Lee is unranked, given he is just moving up, he wasn’t the first choice for dos Anjos. Rather, he revealed there were other fighters who were discussed before Lee was offered which is the fight that is happening.
“We talked about some other options,” dos Anjos told MMA Junkie recently. “(Santiago) Ponzinibbio, (Jorge) Masvidal and even (UFC matchmaker) Sean (Shelby) called me to say, ‘Hey, Nick Diaz might be interested in a fight with you.’ Things did not work out and the only name they throw for me was Kevin. He’s a top contender at lightweight coming up a division and I can’t sit on my sofa waiting for the perfect fight. I’ve got to work.”
The most notable name is Nick Diaz who hasn’t fought since 2015. But, the former welterweight title challenger seemed to show interest in returning to the Octagon. It was reported at UFC 235 Diaz was expected to return against Jorge Masvidal, which ended up not happening.
For the others, Masvidal is set to fight Ben Askren at UFC 239 while Ponzinibbio is still waiting for a fight. The two seemed likely to square off as they were going back-and-forth on Twitter but ultimately, the Lee fight came to fruition.
Now, Rafael dos Anjos is prepared for a war against Lee and knows he has to get back into the win column on Saturday. Although Diaz would have been a money fight for the former champ, “Motown Phenom” remains a big name in the sport and is looking to spoil his welterweight debut.
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Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime