It's no surprise who UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is hoping to face in his first title defense.
Lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone battle for the shot May 23 at UFC 187, but dos Anjos wants revenge against the undefeated Dagestani.
"It's a 50/50 fight," dos Anjos told Submission Radio. "I fought them both. I beat Cerrone and lost to Khabib. I beat Cerrone, but man, Khabib is just coming back from that knee injury. He's out for almost a year. Maybe this could make a difference. Cerrone's been active so that's going to make a difference for him. It's 50/50, it can go either way."
Nurmagomedov scored a unanimous decision over dos Anjos last April at UFC on FOX 11 and won't let the champ forget it.
Hello @RdosAnjosMMA Nice picture off Petis but you forgot to put a picture for my last fight @lorenzofertitta @ufc pic.twitter.com/rXVSbhml7b— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) April 25, 2015
@TeamKhabib @ufc where is the damages? You held me down good, a thunder don't fall at the same place twice. Next time going to be different.— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) April 25, 2015
"I don't want to make any excuses, but I had a couple issues before Khabib's fight," said dos Anjos. "No excuses, he did a great job. He did the perfect strategy. He was able to hold me down and keep the pressure. I wasn't able to defend his takedown, but I'm a different fighter now."
Dos Anjos expects Nurmagomedov to stick with a similar gameplan if they were to fight again, but the champ says he'll gunning for a redemptive submission or knockout.
"At that time I was fighting under a lot of pressure," said dos Anjos. "I was thinking about my title shot. The next fight will be different. If [Nurmagomedov] beats Cerrone I think he'll be a different fighter. I'm a complete fighter right now. I've got extra confidence."
Dos Anjos also detailed a few injury troubles ahead of the fight with Nurmagomedov, including nearly tearing his ear off when it got caught in the cage during training.
"On the day of the fight I was 100% physically but everything that happened during the camp made a difference. To go eight months without fighting. Between Cerrone's fight and Khabib's fight was eight months. I think it made a difference for me."
Having already fought much of the elite at lightweight, dos Anjos wouldn't mind seeing some new blood, especially when its loud. Should No. 1 featherweight contender Conor McGregor beat longtime champion Jose Aldo July 11 at UFC 189, dos Anjos is available.
"I didn't know who Conor McGregor was one year ago," said dos Anjos. "He's going to have a good test now against Aldo. He's been talking a lot. I think he should take care of his business with Aldo, who's going to be a big problem. After that, if he beats Aldo and wants to come to the lightweight division, I would be more than happy to welcome him."
Dos Anjos might be picking Aldo to win, but he sees dollar signs in a champion vs. champion superfight with McGregor.
"For sure, it would be great," said dos Anjos. "Let's sell this fight. It would be good for both of us. It would be good to get this guy if he becomes the featherweight champion. Why not? Let's make it happen if the UFC wants it. I never pick fights."
Dos Anjos appreciates McGregor's ability to promote, but also believes Aldo has been taken advantage of in the leadup, namely during its world tour.
"[McGregor's] selling the fight, but in my opinion he's crossing the line," said dos Anjos. "He's done some things where he's offending Aldo. I think he's taking advantage because Aldo doesn't speak english. He's speaking over him while Aldo is trying to talk. He's taking advantage of him. You can use many ways to sell the fight, but be respectful.
"Don't disrespect your opponent because he's a martial artist. I'm an old school guy. If the guy steps in the Octagon, he's a man. He has balls so you have to respect him."
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Not good. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been named the suspect in a hit-and-run car accident in Albuquerque, N.M., according to Albuquerque Police Department.
Post show. Ariel Helwani and Chuck Mindenhall break down the top storylines coming out of UFC 186.
Aftermath. Dave Doyle explains how it's your own loss if you don't like watching UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
Not impressed. Rashad Evans says if he fought 'that Rampage,' he'd catch him with a 'highlight reel' knockout.
'His day will come.' Dana White says he doesn't 'give a sh*t' if people were leaving during the UFC 186 main event.
Highlights from Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald's Q&A session. (Full video here)
Demetrious Johnson's Octagon interview.
Highlights from Quinton Jackson vs. Fabio Maldonado.
Dana White talks Johnson, Rampage and Bisping.
UFC 186 post-fight presser highlights. (Full presser here)
Free Fight: Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar.
Rashad Evans joins The Fighter and The Kid
Invicta FC 12: Post-fight Press Conference
Want to thank everybody for getting behind me, my coaches and teammates to always push me in the gym physically and mentally. THANK YOU!— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) April 26, 2015
Thanks to everybody that supports me,I love entertaining you guys. Happy to be back in the UFC with... https://t.co/W0AyTsKm9o— Quinton Jackson (@Rampage4real) April 26, 2015
The hard work paid off! Thank you @musclepharmpres rdx_sportscom @alienware @k1speed to my beautiful... https://t.co/QTy3jiHFKH— michael (@bisping) April 26, 2015
I want to thank everyone for there support! I want to thank my team and everyone who was involved in... https://t.co/Qer2s1f3Xk— JohnTheBull Makdessi (@JohnMakdessiMMA) April 26, 2015
Vitoria BRASIL... Obrigado meu deus!! First round is BACK https://t.co/9a9DqfT1B0— Thomas Almeida (@ThomasalmeidaCB) April 26, 2015
That feeling :) #ufc186 @ufc #Montreal #oldtimer #win pic.twitter.com/IO0UXxAhmY— patrick cote (@patrick_cote) April 26, 2015
True honor to fight someone as skilled as @mmasarah https://t.co/mmYbDDPlFw— Alexis Davis (@AlexisDavisMMA) April 26, 2015
@bryan_barberena @danawhite @ufc It was an honour to fight you brother!— Chad Laprise (@ChadLaprise) April 26, 2015
Big thx to @bulldawgUFC ! Great fighter, gentleman and a real nice guy ! Oh and artist ! You should follow him! pic.twitter.com/EzCsTVwoZT— Olivier Aubin (@MMAOAM) April 26, 2015
I want to thanks all the fans for the support! Incredible positive vibe this week, you're the best!#UFC186 #ufcfans #Canada @UFC_CA #@ufc— Nordine Taleb (@NordineTaleb) April 26, 2015
I had an awesome training camp! I have so many people to thank! American Top Team family, all my... https://t.co/JZYNzpc3ci— Valerie Letourneau (@ValTroubleMMA) April 26, 2015
This is the face of a happy girl lol thank you to everyone at michigantopteam , @windsorcrossfit ,... https://t.co/vyifaYaQd1— Randa Markos (@randamma) April 26, 2015
Better luck next time.
Did not meet everyone's expectations to also do my best!
皆さんの期待に応えられずにすいませんでした また頑張ります！— Kyoji Horiguchi (@kyoji1012) April 26, 2015
I'm devastated I apologize.
Puxa tudo isso de pessoas me apoiando e eu dei esse mole ..... Estou arrasado pessoal me desculpem do fundo do... http://t.co/8nWA1BTrfz— Fabio Maldonado (@MaldonadoMMA) April 26, 2015
Thank to all my sponsor for this fight you guys have stood behind me for along time. I couldn't ask... https://t.co/BVP9ZNPTOT— CB Dollaway (@cbdollaway) April 26, 2015
Well I got a little squirrely and gave a big opportunity away tonight. No excuses for bad decisions, all I can do is make it up next time.— Shane Campbell (@shaolinstylemma) April 26, 2015
Hey everyone Im. sorry i didnt come out on top tonight. Even thou I thought i did enough, but we are in Canada.... http://t.co/9FwleE2Rm4— JOE RIGGS (@DIESELRIGGSMMA) April 26, 2015
Definitely not the finish I was planning but Alexis snatched the victory from me. Cat zingano get... https://t.co/5DC49A5tiK— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) April 26, 2015
Well had a fun scrap in Canada at #UFC186 bummed it didn't go my way but ill be back even better.... https://t.co/JA5wDEluOp— BRYAN BARBERENA (@bryan_barberena) April 26, 2015
Anyone got a gif of my punch that knocked him down? Tryna make myself feel a little better about that fight— David Michaud (@bulldawgUFC) April 26, 2015
Me & @randamma post fight. What an amazing sport to be involved in, Fantastic fights, Great people :) @ufc pic.twitter.com/nokIGFYc2K— Aisling Daly (@aisydaly) April 26, 2015
If the rumors are true with Jones, hope everyone is ok & if I'm needed to step in 4 the belt I am more than willing to fight AJ @danawhite— Ryan Bader (@ryanbader) April 26, 2015
More Jones reactions.
Told ya— Chael Sonnen (@sonnench) April 26, 2015
Everybody needs a break and friends. Life can be complicated.— Chael Sonnen (@sonnench) April 27, 2015
A hit and run is considered a misdemeanor in #NewMexico— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) April 27, 2015
Correct. Ppl need to chill until legit info comes out tho. https://t.co/jzzv29xeKI— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) April 27, 2015
Wtf. What's going on with jon Jones ?? I'm hearing madness— jimi manuwa (@POSTERBOYJM) April 26, 2015
What's up with Jon Jones? He crazy— chris fields (@chrisfieldsmma) April 26, 2015
Since no one knows any real facts or story about anything yet, why don't we shift our stir in passion to helping? http://t.co/63l9R9mqVk— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) April 26, 2015
Can someone please get this man a chaperone.— Todd Duffee (@ToddDuffee) April 26, 2015
I can only wish the best for JJ. His life is obviously not in the right path and I hope he gets the help he needs.— #OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) April 26, 2015
Honestly take jones title away if this is true. I feel he is so fake he just gives off that vibe. How stupid do you have to be.— Erik Jon Koch (@NEWBREED04) April 26, 2015
Since we are all speculating about the police tweet, here's a theory Jon was a victim and was hurt by hit and run driver. #waitforfacts— ike vallie-flagg (@IKEVF) April 26, 2015
JUST SO EVERYONE KNOWS: I AM UNDEFEATED AT LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT IN THE @UFC. IF YOU GUYS NEED ME— Tom Lawlor (@FilthyTomLawlor) April 27, 2015
@georgesstpierre #faceyourfears #frenchie #nsac will get you this time around tested 7 times at... https://t.co/KCVCJAg30X— nick diaz (@nickdiaz209) April 25, 2015
Get well soon.
Surgery went smooth :) I'm back home resting. Thank You for all your support https://t.co/CWTRQx62de pic.twitter.com/pSskFbp7tD— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) April 24, 2015
You know I just realized I didn't get drug tested. And I do not like that. How is there a card that big where every fighter isn't tested?— David Michaud (@bulldawgUFC) April 27, 2015
Not even gonna caption this @bisping #ufc186 https://t.co/1LuhmfaAIF— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) April 27, 2015
Announced this weekend (April 24-26 2015)
Chico Camus vs. Henry Cejudo at UFC 188
Zak Cummings vs. Antonio Braga Neto at UFC on FOX 16
Soa Palelei vs. Antonio Silva at UFC 190
Kevin Lee vs. James Moontasri at UFC Fight Night: Duffee vs. Mir
Daron Cruickshank vs. James Krause at UFC on FOX 16
cancelled Mark Eddiva vs. Alex White at UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber
Bobby Green vs. Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night: Duffee vs. Mir
Michael Page vs. Rudy Bears at Bellator 140
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via D'arce Coke.
Sunday Morning Matchmaker: UFC 186
A card that once included such matchups as Rory Macdonald vs. Hector Lombard, and T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barão II (and hell, even Abel Trujillo was going up against Makdessi. That shit would've been fun), UFC 186 was very much a butchered card. It featured basically no one considered a decent draw. However, like many other crappy cards usually do, it gave us some damn good fights (except Davis-Kaufman, that was bad). Let's get right into the matchmaking, shall we?
Randa Markos vs. Rose Namajunas/Nina Ansaroff winner
Valérie Létorneau vs. Seo Hee Ham OR Kailin Curran/Alex Chambers winner
Nordine Taleb vs. Patrick Coté
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
Chad Laprise vs. Michael Chiesa
Check out the rest of the post here.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.