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Rafael dos Anjos plans to be a UFC champ again, but the future Hall of Famer isn’t fighting a top 5 ranked opponent when he returns to the Octagon Saturday night … ’cause RDA tells TMZ Sports the dudes at the top of the division simply won’t fight him.
“We’re trying to get a fight with all the guys ahead of me on the rankings, but nobody seems to want to fight,” #7 ranked dos Anjos says, adding many fighters will only face guys ranked higher than them.
We asked the soon-to-be 38-year-old fighter — who’s beaten guys like Nate Diaz, Robbie Lawler, and Donald Cerrone — specifically who turned down the fight.
“Everybody. We tried everybody. We tried [Michael] Chandler, we tried [Justin] Gaethje. We tried everybody. It seems to not work. We threw all the names out there. Trying to get a better fight with a better-ranked opponent. But, besides Beneil Dariush, he’s my friend, I didn’t try to fight him. But other than that, seems like nobody wants to take a ‘step back.'”
FYI, there’s (technically) no lightweight champ. The strap was stripped from Charles Oliveira (#1) after he missed weight prior to his title fight with Justin (#3) in May. Dustin Poirier is ranked #2, Islam Makhachev #4, Chandler #5, and Dariush is #6.
As for the guy RDA is fighting … 29-year-old Rafael Fiziev is a savage. He’s ranked #10, and has only lost once (11-1) in his professional career. RF last fought in December 2021 … when he knocked out Brad Riddell with a spinning head kick in the final round.
Both top 10 fighters are attempting to get to the same place … the top of the lightweight division. Dos Anjos has been there before … defeating Anthony Pettis for the LW belt in 2015.
Fiziev’s trying to claw his way to the top for the first time.
Bottom line … only one Rafael can emerge the winner Saturday night.