Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos' journey to UFC 272 was anything but conventional, with a fight date moved and a late opponent change. Once the cage doors closed on Saturday night and those distractions were all set aside, dos Anjos put on a clinic in picking apart Renato Moicano in their 160-pound catchweight fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Moicano stepped into the fight on five days' notice, replacing Rafael Fiziev after Fiziev tested positive for COVID-19. The bout with Fiziev had been moved from a planned Feb. 19 date to serve as the UFC 272 co-main event and remained a five-round bout, even after Moicano stepped in.
From the opening round, dos Anjos was the sharper fighter, mixing in solid striking with takedowns and a devastating ground attack. By the second round, when dos Anjos dropped Moicano with a clean head kick, it seemed unlikely the fight could possibly make it the full 25 minutes to the final horn.
Moicano, clearly not as sharp as normal as a result of the late notice nature of his participation, did bring plenty of heart to the Octagon, however. As the damage piled up, leaving Moicano's face a mess of cuts and welts, he continued trying to make something positive happen, throwing strikes when he had the opportunity.
After the third round, Moicano's corner refused to stop the fight despite their fighter having taken heavy damage. Referee Marc Goddard also allowed the fight to continue after consulting with the ringside physician.
That situation would repeat before the fifth round as well, with the doctor telling Goddard it would be reasonable to stop the fight but that Moicano could technically see out of his badly swollen eye. Moicano did make a late charge, landing several flurries of clean punches down the stretch but nowhere near enough to avoid the clear decision loss on the scorecards.
The three official judges scored the fight 49-45, 49-44 and 50-44.
The fight was the first for dos Anjos since November 2020. He has now won back-to-back fights for the first time since 2017.
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