Rafael dos Anjos defends UFC Lightweight Title against Eddie Alvarez on UFC Fight Pass in July

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

UFC San Antonio

The UFC Lightweight Title will be on the line this July, but it won’t be at UFC 200; instead, the UFC announced on Friday that Rafael dos Anjos will defend his title against Eddie Alvarez in the main event of UFC Fight Night 90 on Thursday, July 7, with that event airing exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

Dos Anjos had been scheduled for what would have been a massive money pay-per-view fight with UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in March, but he was forced out due to injury. McGregor then went on to face Nate Diaz, losing in shocking fashion in the second round and setting up the rematch for UFC 200.

As for Alvarez, the former Bellator Lightweight Champion gets his shot at UFC gold after consecutive decision wins over former Strikeforce Champ Gilbert Melendez and, in January, former UFC Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis. It was Pettis from whom dos Anjos took the title in March of 2015, and he made one successful defense in December when he took out Donald Cerrone in the first round.

The UFC Fight Night 90 event is the first of three straight fight cards in Las Vegas for the UFC this July, as The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale hits Fox Sports 1 on Friday, July 8, before Saturday’s landmark pay-per-view card.

Penick’s Analysis: That’s an incredible shift in fights for dos Anjos, and he likely missed out on millions by that injury forcing him out of UFC 196. The fight itself is huge for Fight Pass, the biggest the organization’s put on their over-the-top streaming service, and as it wouldn’t have sold much on pay-per-view itself they could afford to place it here. Alvarez is getting the shot in this spot because of the venue and platform available, because his performances in those wins over Melendez and Pettis were not necessarily title worthy. That said, this is a massive opportunity for him, while dos Anjos has a chance to take out the former Bellator king to hold onto his title.

[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]

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