Rafael dos Anjos became the fighter with the most time ever spent in the octagon on Saturday night but more importantly he picked up an impressive win over Bryan Barberena in the UFC Orlando co-main event.
In what ultimately played out as a lopsided victory, dos Anjos used his grappling to nullify Barberena from the start of the fight but it was a slick transition to take the back that led to the finish. Once dos Anjos had his position locked in, he wrapped his arms around the head and trapped Barberena in a neck crank/rear-naked choke that got the tap just a moment later.
The official stoppage came at 3:20 in the second round as dos Anjos passed Frankie Edgar for most time spent in the octagon in UFC history.
“He’s strong as hell,” dos Anjos said about Barberena. “That guy’s big, it’s my return to welterweight, I’m so happy I got the ‘W.’ I think I’m the guy that has the most hours in the octagon.”
It was a grappling heavy strategy for dos Anjos after he secured a well-timed takedown to bring Barberena into his world on the ground early in the opening round. The former lightweight champion nearly locked up an arm-triangle choke during that initial exchange but he was trapped against the cage, which stopped him from fully locking on the submission.
While dos Anjos continued threatening on the canvas, Barberena scrambled to stay out of too much trouble and never allowing the Brazilian to really to mount much damage. Still, dos Anjos was able to consistently drag Barberena down to the mat, which virtually eliminated any threat he might face on the feet from the bigger welterweight.
Dos Anjos was methodical in his approach and he eventually shredded Barberena’s defense to take the back before immediately finding an opening to lock his arms for the submission. Barberena did his best to hold on but there was no escape this time and dos Anjos got the tap to earn the victory.
With the win, dos Anjos is now looking to settle some unfinished business with an opponent he was supposed to face back in 2016.
“Conor McGregor, seven years ago I earned this fight,” dos Anjos said. “We were supposed to fight, I broke my foot. He has a couple of months to clean his body of all the stuff he is taking. Here I am. I will see you in July.”