Rafael dos Anjos is here to stay at 170 pounds.
Facing Neil Magny on Saturday in the show's co-main event of UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the former lightweight champion put on an absolutely dominant performance, scoring a first-round submission victory.
Dos Anjos tends to be a strong starter, and Magny attempted to meet that head-on, applying early pressure for a brief time. That backfired, however, as Dos Anjos made the adjustments and wrestled Magny to the mat in the first 30 seconds, landing in half-guard and keeping the pressure high on top.
Magny had no answer for this, and Dos Anjos eventually stepped into mount and sunk in a deep arm-triangle choke, forcing the tapout at 3:43 of the first round.
This is a much-needed win for Dos Anjos.
While the Brazilian was riding high in 2015, looking the part of a potentially long-reigning champion at 155 pounds, things went into a tailspin in 2016, starting with his withdrawal from a UFC 196 bout with Conor McGregor. That fateful turn, alongside Nate Diaz's upset win, saw him robbed of a massive payday and placed on the backburner of his own division.
The situation went from bad to worse to irreparable when he dropped the title to Eddie Alvarez and then lost to Tony Ferguson.
He entered UFC 215 amid a reboot to his career at 170 pounds, starting in June with a win over Tarec Saffiedine. This decisive win over Magny cements his place in the welterweight top 10 and propels him into the title picture.
On the flip side, this is a brutal turn for Magny.
The 30-year-old has been hovering around the welterweight top 10, with wins over the likes of Hector Lombard and Kelvin Gastelum and stoppage losses to Demian Maia and Lorenz Larkin. While he ranks highly in the division, his footing near the top is far from secure.
That said, neither man's future is clear exiting this event.
Magny may have been steamrolled, but his hectic schedule should see him return to the cage in short order, possibly before year's end. He could face (and defeat) a number of top-10 competitors and make up the ground he lost.
Dos Anjos, meanwhile, has a strong claim to a title shot and possibly stands as the worst matchup for champion Tyron Woodley—as B/R's Patrick Wyman's tweeted above—but he lacks the following to force himself into contention.
His next fight could be a top-contender bout against someone like Robbie Lawler on a big pay-per-view, or he could end up on the slow road back to the top and face a hot upstart like Santiago Ponzinibbio on the prelims of a UFC on Fox event.
Things should become clearer in the coming months as the UFC looks to get Woodley into the cage for one of its upcoming PPVs.