WINNIPEG — Rafael dos Anjos claimed his third straight victory as a welterweight with a unanimous decision over Ruthless Robbie Lawler in the headliner of Saturday's UFC Fight Night card in Winnipeg.
The 33-year-old Brazilian, a former lightweight champion, won the five-round bout by scores of 50-45 by each of the three judges.
As the winner, he may get to meet welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in a title bout. However, Woodley announced earlier this month he's going to have shoulder surgery.
"I think I did enough tonight to deserve that title shot," dos Anjos said.
With about three minutes left in the second round, dos Anjos (28-9) had his opponent backed up against the cage and put a flurry of punches on Lawler, 35, that he somehow recovered from.
In another round, Dos Anjos sent Lawler (28-12) to the mat, got on top of him and banged his head with his forearm until the bell rang to end the assault. He also abused Lawler's right leg with kicks.
Dos Anjos moved up a weight class two fights ago and remains undefeated at the new level.
In the other fights on the main card, Josh Emmett sent fellow American Ricardo (The Bully) Lamas crashing to the mat 4:33 into the first round with a knockout left hook to the chin.
Emmett was 2.5 pounds over 145 at the featherweight weigh-in and had to give up 30 per cent of his purse to the No. 3-ranked Lamas (18-6), who hails from Chicago.
"I said if I had one clean shot, I'd win the fight," the Californian (13-1) said, apologizing inside the octagon that he never made the weight and thanking Lamas for taking the fight.
Argentinian Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3), who fights out of Florida, won a unanimous decision (29-28 in each of the three rounds) over Mike Perry (11-2) from Flint, Mich., in a bloody welterweight clash.
Canadians competed in five of the 11 fights, with only one loss.
That defeat was taken hard by Toronto light-heavyweight Misha Cirkunov (13-4), the only Canadian on the main card.
Cirkunov slammed his fists to the mat in frustration after his bout against American-based Brazilian Glover Teixeira was stopped 2:45 into the first round by technical knockout. The No. 3-ranked fighter put Cirkunov in a choke, but the Canadian rolled out of it with Teixeira still on top of him, pummelling his head with his fists.
It was the second straight fight Cirkunov has been knocked out in the first round. He lost 26 seconds into a bout May 28 against Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland.
Canadians were 4 for 4 on the preliminary card.
Nordine Taleb, who fights out of Montreal, knocked out England's Danny Roberts 59 seconds into the first round of their welterweight bout with a punishing head kick followed by a heavy punch to the same side of the face. The 36-year-old moved his record to 14-4-0.
Chad (The Disciple) Laprise of Chatham, Ont., also had a first-round victory with a technical knockout over England's Galore Bofando in their welterweight fight (14-2-0). Laprise has won three straight fights with knockouts.
John (The Bull) Makdessi of Halifax, N.S., (15-6-0) defeated American Abel Trujillo in a unanimous decision after their three-round lightweight fight. Makdessi scored 30-27 in each round.
Alberta's Jordan (Young Gun) Mein bumped his record up to 30-12 with a unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) over Brazilian Erick Silva in their welterweight bout. It was the Lethbridge fighter's first win after coming out of retirement and losing twice.