Rafael dos Anjos turned in a dominant performance in UFC 272’s co-main event, taking lopsided unanimous decision over late-replacement Renato Moicano in a 160-pound catchweight bout.
Such was the level of dominance from dos Anjos that the commentary team called for the bout to be stopped by Moicano’s corner between rounds, however Moicano’s coaches allowed the fight to continue, and their fighter even made a small comeback in the fifth round — which, according to the former UFC lightweight champion, was caused in part by just how dominant dos Anjos had been for the first 20 minutes of the bout.
“I was [surprised the fight wasn’t stopped],” dos Anjos said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I told my corner, after the doctor stepped in from the third to the fourth and the fourth to the fifth, they didn’t stop it in the third and I said, ‘They’re gonna stop it for sure.’ But they didn’t. My coaches told me, ‘Just walk around, eat some time, don’t need to take any risks right now. He’s probably gonna try to do some crazy stuff right now. You’re winning the fight already, don’t take any risks.’ But that’s something that I need to work on, because every time I try to not fight my fight, my style, which is going forward and throwing, I don’t fight well.”
The fifth round was by far Moicano’s best of the evening, and during the fight, the UFC’s commentary team even suggested that dos Anjos was taking it easy on his fellow Brazilian in an attempt to spare him damage that Moicano’s corner seemed unwilling to protect him from. However, dos Anjos says that isn’t true. Instead, he was simply following his own corner’s instructions to minimize risk — instructions that nearly backfired.
“In that 30 seconds of the fight, I got caught on my eye,” dos Anjos said. “I got caught right inside my eyeball and it really hurt. That was the only punch that I really felt. I managed to finish the fight well, but, I just took my foot off the gas a little bit, knowing that I had the fight, but I got caught on the eye and he came with everything he got on the fifth.
“I’m not gonna say I took it easy on him in the fifth. I went, but I took my foot off the gas because I knew I was four rounds ahead and he’s a hard guy to finish, so my coach said don’t take any risks, just go there, eat some time, walk around, but that’s when I got caught. I think by taking my foot off the gas, he kind of recovered a little bit and felt more confident, that’s why he came forward and threw those shots.”
The bout reignited a common debate in MMA surrounding corner stoppages.
While corner stoppages are a common occurrence in boxing, MMA coaches rarely throw in the towel for their fighters. Some have suggested that the reason for this disparity is that the win/bonus structure of UFC pay and the increased possibility of comebacks created by four-ounce gloves, has incentivized coaches to simply never surrender for their fighter.
And like many, dos Anjos believes this is a terrible outcome for the sport.
“It drives me nuts because I see guys in boxing, all the time people throw the towel, stop the fight, and we don’t see that in MMA,” dos Anjos said.
“I think because of the small gloves, coaches think, ‘He’s gonna get a lucky punch and finish the fight,’ but I think we should see that more. I think coaches should be more aware, to know their fighters. They’re not reacting, they’re not connecting anything that really hurts the other guy, so let’s stop it because you’re killing your fighter. I think that’s something that the coaches in MMA should be more aware of.”