Perhaps the biggest loser from the madness of UFC 196, at least in a financial sense, is someone who didn't fight at all.
UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos lost his golden ticket to the Conor McGregor show when he dropped out with a broken foot less than two weeks before the event. And after seeing his replacement, Nate Diaz, shatter the illusion of the unbeatable Irishman, dos Anjos' takeaways are twofold: first, that his big payday is likely gone for good, and second, that he could've done far worse things to McGregor had he not gotten injured.
"I've been around the game for a long time, 12 years, and I never cancelled any fight due to injury," dos Anjos said Monday on The MMA Hour. "I always show up, but unfortunately for this fight, I broke my foot, man. A lot of people are making fun of it, and I don't like to make fun of people's injuries. I think we are fighters, so everybody is going to get injured one day. So, unfortunately I lost my payday, but I think everything is God's plan for my life. I believe in that.
"But man, what went through my mind: I fought Nate Diaz already, and I knew, Conor, he's a good fighter, but I think I can put a worse beating on him, for sure."
Despite entering UFC 196 on short notice, Diaz pulled off the performance of his life, submitting McGregor with a second-round rear-naked choke to cut short McGregor's goals of multi-divisional dominance.
McGregor is now expected to drop back down to featherweight, where he remains the reigning UFC champion. The move means a potential superfight against dos Anjos is at least a few wins away, if not outright dead in the water.
Win or lose, dos Anjos knows the blockbuster fight would have led to biggest paycheck of his career, however he isn't stressing about the missed opportunity.
"It would be good, everybody likes money, but I think money is not the most important (thing) for me," dos Anjos said. "I'm really happy with how much I make, and I have everything in my life. If one day, he fights, he makes good wins and he's trying to fight for the title, I will be there. But, you know, life is not all about money.
"I don't need to fight him to change my life," dos Anjos added. "I think my life will keep on going, and I think I have a lot more challenges in my weight division. I think he doesn't deserve a fight at 155 pounds. He was just submitted by the No. 5 ranked (fighter) with 10 days' notice."
For now, dos Anjos' focus remains on getting healthy. His foot is currently in a cast, and while he is hoping to be recovered and back to training within the next few months, dos Anjos acknowledged that it has been impossible to ignore the vocal contingent of McGregor fans who incessantly accuse him on social media of exaggerating his injury.
"It's hard, but man, they're all haters," dos Anjos said. "I'm not giving anything for the haters. There's always going to be people there talking crap, but I have my fans who believe in me. And man, who is this guy for me to be afraid of him? I've beaten better guys before. Man, I don't fear nobody but God. But this guy, it's been hard because I'm very active and I'm [peaking] right now, so I'm ready to fight right now but I have my foot injury. So I have a lot of energy, I want to do stuff, but I can't yet. But it's fine. I'm going to be back in four or five weeks. I'm up for UFC 200."
Even with McGregor out of the picture, dos Anjos has plenty of options for his next lightweight title defense. Eddie Alvarez and the winner of April 16's bout between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are the two biggest candidates, in which case dos Anjos said he'd like a chance at vengeance against Nurmagomedov, preferably on July 9 at UFC 200.
But dos Anjos also took a page out of McGregor's book, offering to move up a division and challenge UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in a champion vs. champion superfight at the seminal event.
"I don't know the UFC's plans, but I'm here, man," dos Anjos said. "I'm here to fight anybody. I'll fight welterweight too, if they need.
"I respect Robbie Lawler, but if UFC needs somebody to fight for the welterweight (title), I would fight."