Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos took a successful first step up to welterweight at UFC Fight Night 111 tonight, defeating Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision.
Saffiedine tries for a head kick early, but it misses. Now it’s Dos Anjos who tries to go upstairs with a kick.
Solid leg kick for Saffiedine. RDA attempts a kick, but Saffiedine catches it and takes him down.
Saffiedine working in half guard in the center of the Octagon and tries to move his opponent towards the cage. He gets about half-way before RDA suddenly threatens with a kimura attempt. He’s able to break free of that though and maintains top position.
Nice methodical work from Dos Anjos though to gradually work to his feet. Saffiedine stays in the clinch though and presses RDA against the cage.
They both look for knees to the midsection and then Saffiedine moves away, landing an elbow as he does so.
Body kick for RDA. Punch for Saffiedine and then they go into the clinch with RDA pressing Saffiedine to the cage and then landing a takedown.
RDA in side control here and tries for a kimura, but Saffiedine is not only to get out of it, but also stands and moves away too.
Dos Anjos continuing to apply pressure though and launches a few strikes as he backs Saffiedine up against the cage in the opposite side of the Octagon.
Saffiedine reverses the position and soon after they move apart. They don’t go far from each other though, instead opting to exchange in close.
RDA with a solid punch to the body. Saffiedine kicks to the body. Another hard body punch from Dos Anjos and then he starts to land a few punches to the head as the round comes to a close. The former lightweight champion was starting to get the better of the fight in those final moments of the round.
An exchange of strikes from both men to start the second. Leg kicks for Saffiedine as he moves on the outside. RDA launches in with a punch, but misses and Saffiedine presses him to the cage.
Dos Anjos reverses and then immediately looks for a takedown. He picks Saffiedine up, but credit to his opponent for managing to stay upright and get free.
Now it’s Saffiedine’s turn to work RDA to the opposite end of the cage and try for a takedown. Nothing doing for now though and they jockey for position against the cage.
Nice job from RDA to snap Saffiedine down to the canvas. Saffiedine has one knee down as RDA lands a couple of knee strikes that either landed to the head or shoulder – one or more of them could have been illegal, but the ref doesn’t seem to notice and luckily Saffiedine seems ok.
Saffiedine back to his feet and RDA is trying to get him down again, but no success this time and they go back to striking range. Saffiedine with a nice elbow and wades forward with more strikes, but RDA returns fire.
More clinch work against the cage now from RDA. Knee strike to the body and then separates. Two-piece combo from Saffiedine. Solid leg kick.
Now a nice right hook from Saffiedine. Body punch from RDA and then lands upstairs. Saffiedine looking tired and is in on a takedown attempt against the cage, perhaps just looking to stall and get a breather, but again RDA snaps him down to the mat. Saffiedine pops right back up, but RDA ends the round pressing him into the cage.
Hard body kick from RDA to start the third round. Punch for Saffiedine and a push kick from Dos Anjos. Body punch followed by a kick on the other side from RDA.
Dos Anjos constantly pressuring Saffiedine, but eats a punch. Leg kick from Saffiedine. elbow attempt from Saffiedine. Hook lands for RDA.
Right hook for Saffiedine and another powerful body kick from RDA in return. Clinch from Saffiedine and both men trade a heavy knee to the midsection each.
They separate from the clinch with Saffiedine landing an elbow. leg kick from RDA. One in return from Saffiedine. Body kick for RDA.
RDA misses with an uppercut, but continues his momentum into the clinch. Two minutes remaining and they go back to striking with Saffiedine landing a punch.
Back to the body kick for RDA and then he steps in with a very hard punch to the body too. Saffiedine returns fire with a punching combo.
Even exchange of strikes, but RDA is the one continuing to apply pressure. Another clinch opportunity and Saffiedine stalls with a takedown that he’s not really committing to fully.
Rdos Anjos nicely moves free of that and unloads punches. Final 10 seconds and it’s RDA who steps up a gear with a combination of punches and a kick.
Competitive action then, but Dos Anjos was pushing the pace more frequently, landed the better strikes and seemed fresher in the second half of the bout, helping him to a unanimous decision victory (30-27 x2, 29-28).