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Shelby: Dos Anjos accepted title fight against Woodley, was back up option for UFC 214

If Demian Maia didn’t accept the bout, it was Rafael dos Anjos who was supposed to fight Tyron Woodley at UFC 214.

On pretty much every pay-per-view event, UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard sit down with Jon Anik to rundown the card and preview the event. They usually give their thoughts on the bouts they’ve set up, but for the UFC 215 edition of this ‘Watch List’ segment, Shelby revealed an interesting tidbit from their last PPV card.

According to the veteran matchmaker, former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos had initially accepted a welterweight title fight as a back up option to face Tyron Woodley.

“What’s interesting about this, is that we obviously had a fight with Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia,” Shelby revealed about the matchmaking for UFC 214. “Dana made it public that Tyron is fighting on this card. Maia wasn’t initially sure if he was going to do it, and the guy waiting there for that fight was RDA. He had already accepted the fight against Tyron, had Maia not been able to do it.

“So he’s been ready to go. He’s been chomping at the bit, and he wants to fight every week. I said, ‘hey, it didn’t work out, but I’ll try to get you back in something fun as soon as possible.’”

Maia still accepted the somewhat short-notice fight, and eventually ended up with a decision loss to Woodley. After the bout, Maia said his game wasn’t on point because he didn’t have enough time to host camp with top wrestlers in the US. He knew it would be his shortest fight camp in the UFC, but he accepted it fearing he wouldn’t get another crack at the title if he declined the offer.

Maia vs Woodley was heavily criticized by many, including UFC President Dana White for being lackluster an uneventful. Having Dos Anjos in there probably would’ve made the fight a lot different, but it wouldn’t have made much sense from a sporting perspective. Maia clearly was the rightful contender, and RDA had only won a single bout at welterweight — his first win since 2015.

In the end, RDA’s back up title fight obviously didn’t push through, but the matchmakers were able to get him a slot on the very next pay-per-view, as he’s now set to face Neil Magny at UFC 215.

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