LAS VEGAS — UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos stepped into the cage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to put his belt on the line against challenger Eddie Alvarez. The fight started with dos Anjos getting the better of Alvarez early on until a huge overhand right landed flush on the champ’s chin, and wobbled him, nearly laying him on his back.
While dos Anjos was able to get up and weather the storm, Alvarez pursued like a mad man, chasing him across the cage and landing a flying knee to put dos Anjos in danger once again. Eventually, referee Herb Dean stepped into stop the fight, giving Alvarez the TKO win with a little over a minute left in the first round.
It is a milestone victory for Alvarez, who becomes the first fighter to win a championship in both Bellator and the UFC, the two-largest American-based promotions. Benson Henderson had a chance to do so earlier this year, but lost his Bellator welterweight title bout.
Lightweight continues to be one of the deepest divisions in the promotion, but dos Anjos was dispatching some of the top fighters with ease and looked poised to go clear out the 155-pounders. Alvarez's win gives everyone a new chance to claim angle for a title fight.
Perhaps his next opponent could be Nate Diaz, who is schedule to fight Conor McGregor at welterweight in the main event of UFC 202 in August. If McGregor wins, he could angle for that 155-pound title shot he nearly had at UFC 196 before an injury forced dos Anjos out of the bout.
It was the first time dos Anjos fought since defending his belt against Donald Cerrone back in December.