It's been a bad year for UFC world champions, but Rafael dos Anjos changed that in a big way on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.
He retained his lightweight belt by stopping Donald Cerrone on strikes in just 66 seconds Saturday in Orlando, Fla., in the first defense of the belt he won in March from Anthony Pettis.
Just as in their first bout, a non-title affair in Indianapolis in 2013, the secret weapon for Dos Anjos was a body kick. The hard-hitting dos Anjos caught Cerrone just 15 or 20 seconds into the fight with a blistering straight left hand, signifying that not much would be different from their 2013 match.
Dos Anjos then caught Cerrone with a perfect knee to the midsection, that backed Cerrone toward the cage. Dos Anjos then pulled off the left kick to the body that badly hurt Cerrone. Cerrone covered up against the cage as dos Anjos poured it on in an effort to finish.
Cerrone, who entered the match on an eight-fight winning streak, managed to slip away from the cage, but he had no place to hide. Dos Anjos took him down seconds left and continued to throw hammer fists at Cerrone, who was on his knees covering his head.
Cerrone never moved to try to get away from the assault and referee Herb Dean jumped in to stop it.
"I'm so happy because I proved I'm here to stay," dos Anjos said after his first successful title defense and fifth consecutive win overall. "It's just the beginning. I have the best team and I am surrounded by so many great people."
Like so many other fights did on the card, dos Anjos then quickly took the opportunity to call out newly crowned featherweight champion Conor McGregor. After McGregor stopped long-time featherweight champion Jose Aldo a week earlier at UFC 191 in Las Vegas, he said he would be interested in facing the winner of the dos Anjos-Cerrone bout for the title.
Dos Anjos, who was a 2-1 favorite to defeat Cerrone, was eager to call out McGregor. McGregor is the big-money fight for so many, which is why former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar did a little media tour earlier in the week stating his case for a bout against McGregor for the featherweight belt.
Dos Anjos took his turn to call out the Irish star after his impressive win.
"Conor McGregor, if you want to come to the lightweight division, know that this is my division," he said. "You should stay at featherweight. I will fight you in Brazil. I will go to Ireland to face you."
Cerrone, who had been among the hottest fighters in the sport, was bitterly disappointed. He is a notoriously slow starter and that plagued him again on Saturday.
He didn't land anything of consequence and took a beating in the process.
"It sucks," Cerrone said. "I didn’t show up to work. Couldn’t find my gear. He showed up and I didn’t. He did a good job."
The key now is if he did enough to impress McGregor to land the big-money bout.