Rafael Dos Anjos may have missed a bout with Conor McGregor at UFC 196, but he’s keeping close to the Notorious One – literally.

That’s because the UFC announced on Friday that Dos Anjos will be defending his Lightweight title against #1 contender Eddie Alvarez at a UFC Fight Night event on July 7th.

The event will be two days from McGregor’s huge UFC 200 return on July 9th and it will be held at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada which is just across the street from the brand new T-Mobile Arena that will host UFC 200.

Change of Plans

Dos Anjos pulled out of UFC 196 11 days before fight night after suffering a broken foot. Nate Diaz stepped in for Dos Anjos and went on to pull off an incredible upset over the heavily favored McGregor. The two are set to do it all over again at UFC 200.

With McGregor already booked, Dos Anjos was hoping to land a slot at the prestigious UFC 200 event. Instead, he gets to headline a UFC Fight Pass event two days before the big dance.

New Challenge

Facing Dos Anjos will be Eddie Alvarez, the former two-time  Lightweight champion from Bellator who has a record of 24-7 with 14 KOs and 7 submissions. He is on a two fight winning streak, having beaten highly rated Gilbert Melendez and former 155-pound champion Anthony Pettis in succession and both by split decision. Alvarez lost his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone, whom Dos Anjos knocked out in one round during his first title defense last December.

Time For a Statement

Dos Anjos meanwhile is on a tear. He’s won five fights in a row, three by knockout. After beating Jason High at UFC Fight Night 42, RDA beat another former champ in Benson Henderson and then Nate Diaz after that to set up a title fight with then champion Anthony Pettis.

Dos Anjos dominated Pettis in a one-sided bout which he won by unanimous decision.  He’s lost just once in 11 fights and that was to the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC on Fox 11. Nurmagomedov was  supposed to fight Tony Ferguson on Saturday for what was likely the next title shot at 155 pounds but that bout has been scrapped after Ferguson pullled out of the bout with a lung injury.

Dos Anjos needs to make a statement against Alvarez if he wants to get another crack at Conor McGregor. The UFC’s booked him in an event so near UFC 200 that a big win by RDA would almost instantly put him on top of McGregor’s wish list should Conor himself beat Diaz on July 9.

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