Puerto Rican-American fighter Eddie Alvarez defeated star Brazilian opponent Rafael dos Anjos to capture the UFC lightweight title via first-round TKO at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Thursday night.

Eddie Alvarez Beats Rafael Dos Anjos To Win UFC Lightweight Title

Alvarez (28-4), a decided underdog and Philadelphia native, followed up the clean strike with constant pressure against the cage to stop dos Anjos.

“Rafael dos Anjos was top five pound for pound and I took him out,” said the teary-eyed, 32-year-old Puerto Rican, who won his third straight fight.

The bout was competitive in the early going as both fighters felt one another out and tried to figure out their range. Alvarez did so first, as he wobbled dos Anjos and followed up with pure ruthlessness.


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“This has nothing to do with me,” Alvarez also said. “This has everything to do with my friends, my family, my trainers and my wife and kids. I love you guys.”

He went on to call dos Anjos, 31, a “resilient” fighter.

Dos Anjos, who saw his five-fight win streak come to a close, got off to a quick start by closing distance well with clean punches. He caught Alvarez flush with an overhand left and rapidly bounced back to his feet after being taken down, only to counter with a knee to Alvarez’ face in close.

Despite increasing his brutality, dos Anjos was caught by the perfect shot and was visibly injured as he retreated to the cage. Alvarez began throwing hooks from close range before nearly missing with a wild flying knee.

Two more hooks landed flush to the side of dos Anjos’ head before referee Herb Dean jumped in at 3 minutes, 49 seconds of the opening round.

“When I got caught, my hand was up, I had good form,” dos Anjos said. “It just happened.”

A former Bellator champion, Alvarez entered the fight 2-1 in the UFC since making his debut in 2014. He entered having won a pair of split-decisions over Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis.

The fight marked Dos Anjos’ first appearance since withdrawing from a title defense against featherweight Irish champion Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in March after breaking his left foot.

“I came here in the best shape of my life. I have to give all the credit to Eddie, who did a great job,” dos Anjos said. “That’s the fight game, it happens. I won 10 of my last 11 but Eddie did a great job. I think I just got caught.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be back. I’ll come to get my belt back.”

In a highly anticipated heavyweight co-main event, Derrick Lewis pushed through fatigue to earn a split decision victory over veteran Roy Nelson. 

Lewis (16-4, 1 no-contest) landed several different types of strikes on Nelson in the opening round. Nelson (21-13), however, took advantage of Lewis’ lack of wrestling skill and took him down six times over the course of the fight. He shut Lewis down entirely in the second round and got off to a good start in the third.

However, Lewis rallied back in the final round and got the victory via split decision, taking two out of three 29-28 scores for his fourth straight win.

“It is what it is,” Lewis said. “The Black Beast in the house. S–t,that’s what I’m talking about. I don’t care how tired I’m going to get, I’m going to keep swinging.”

BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 17: Eddie Alvarez celebrates defeating Anthony Pettis (not pictured) in their lightweight bout during UFC Fight Night 81 at TD Banknorth Garden on January 17, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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