One of the greatest lightweights of this era is looking for a change of scenery.
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos announced Friday on social media that he is moving up to the welterweight division following back-to-back losses at 155 pounds to close out 2016.
I reached the top of LW,it's been a hard journey make weight every time,now I want to fight at my best,I have new goals, I'm moving to WW— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) January 6, 2017
Dos Anjos (25-9) has been a staple of the UFC lightweight division for nearly nine years, competing 21 times and racking up 14 victories over that span.
Things started out slowly for dos Anjos, as the 32-year-old Brazilian lost four of his first eight contests in the UFC Octagon. However, he turned everything around in 2012 by embarking on a stellar 10-1 run that included big-time victories over Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz, and Benson Henderson.
Dos Anjos’ career as a lightweight culminated in an year-long title reign in 2015 that saw “RDA” demolish Anthony Pettis to capture UFC gold in stunning fashion, then defend his strap with another sizzling victory over Cerrone, this time via knockout in just 66 seconds.
But 2016 was not kind to dos Anjos.
Last February, the Brazilian saw a coveted fight against Conor McGregor slip through his fingers after a foot injury caused him to withdraw from UFC 196 just weeks out from the event. Dos Anjos then returned and promptly dropped back-to-back contests to tumble down the divisional ladder, first falling to Eddie Alvarez via first-round knockout in July, then dropping a lopsided unanimous decision to Tony Ferguson this past November.
While his 5-foot-8 frame and 70-inch reach won’t give him many physical advantages at welterweight, dos Anjos over recent years has dealt with a tough weight cut down to 155 pounds, and he believes the decreased stress on his body at the higher weight will do him good.
“I reached the top of the the toughest division in the UFC, made history by being the first Brazilian to become lightweight champion,” dos Anjos wrote on Facebook (translated by MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz). “It hasn't been easy to make the weight and now I want to fight with my best and reach the top of the welterweight division. Making weight happy in 2017, being happy while getting a fight booked will make a big difference.
“And about going back to lightweight again… only for a super fight and big money.”