This bout was referenced earlier in outlining the incredible run of success Dos Anjos enjoyed before and after his encounter with Khabib Nurmagomedov but is deserving of its own spot on this list because it was a truly impressive performance from the Brazilian champion.
Here’s the thing: that loss to Nurmagomedov left many people counting Dos Anjos out when he stepped into the cage to face Anthony Pettis for the lightweight title in March, but he walked into the Octagon in Dallas and stole the show against “Showtime,” pressuring him from the outset en route to sweeping the scorecards and claiming the title.
Beating Pettis was an eye-opener, and now here came Cerrone, the long-time fan favorite whom Dos Anjos had beaten 28 months earlier by unanimous decision. “Cowboy” hadn’t lost since, rattling off eight straight wins, including victories over Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, and former champ Benson Henderson.
Many wondered if this was the moment Cerrone finally won the big one and claimed championship gold for the first time in his career.
Dos Anjos put those thoughts to rest in 66 seconds, swarming the veteran gunslinger almost immediately and putting him on the canvas amidst a torrent of punches before the crowd even had a chance to settle in for the championship clash. The win over Pettis was Dos Anjos’ most complete, impressive performance from start-to-finish, but this was “RDA” at his most dominant.
This is the second bout from that December 19, 2015 fight card on FOX to make this list and I want to take a second to shout out the rest of the card because looking back, it was absolutely packed with talent.
The Fight Pass prelims produced victories for Francis Ngannou, Vicente Luque and Kamaru Usman, who edged out Leon Edwards, while the televised prelims included the promotional debut of Valentina Shevchenko and a bunch of entertaining performances from veteran names, including Tamdan McCrory, Nate Marquardt, and Charles Oliveira. Joining the two main card fights already mentioned were Karolina Kowalkiewicz’ successful promotional debut against Randa Markos and Alistair Overeem registering a second-round stoppage win over former champ Junior Dos Santos.
What an absolutely monstrous card.