For Rafael Dos Anjos, Saturday's main event against Leon Edwards will mark his 28th appearance in the UFC. Not many of those were negotiated directly with promotion president Dana White. This one was, though.
Dos Anjos (29-11) had just fought in May and was looking forward to spending the summer with his kids. He and his son were camping in Utah five weeks ago when White called to see whether he would fight Edwards this weekend in San Antonio.
Even though it was a much quicker turnaround than Dos Anjos had in mind, it didn't take long for him to accept.
"It's not every day Dana White calls and asks you for a favor, and he kind of took care of me and closed out a good deal for me," Dos Anjos told ESPN. "And when he asked me about a main event on July 20, I thought, 'I can still spend the rest of summer with my kids.'"
A lot has changed for Dos Anjos, 34, since he captured the UFC lightweight championship in 2015. He is 5-4 in that time and has moved up to welterweight.
In other ways, however, this chapter of his career reminds Dos Anjos of the year leading up to him becoming a UFC champion. He was extremely active -- five fights in 11 months -- and he didn't care about where his opponents were ranked because, at the time, there was no official UFC rankings system.
"If you want to be a champion, you have to be active," Dos Anjos said. "Back in the day, there were no rankings, so I had to fight anybody they asked. I beat a bunch of guys in a short amount of time to get my title shot, and that's what I feel I have to do now."
Not many welterweights have raised their hand to fight Edwards (17-3), who is riding a seven-fight win streak and has been demanding a big-name opponent for a while. For Dos Anjos to not only accept the bout but do it within a time frame he wasn't expecting could be perceived as a risk.
But that's the exact mindset that carried him to his first title shot in 2015.
By the numbers
17: UFC fights for Rafael Dos Anjos before he fought for and won a championship in 2015. This will be his 28th appearance in the Octagon.
8: Seconds it took Leon Edwards to finish Seth Baczynski in 2015. It's the third-fastest knockout in UFC welterweight history, behind Jorge Masvidal's 5-second KO of Ben Askren this month and Duane Ludwig's 6-second finish of Jonathan Goulet in 2006.
0: Stoppage losses on the record of Edwards, whose three career defeats came via decision, decision and disqualification.
6: Consecutive fights for Dos Anjos that have been a main event or co-main, including Saturday's, which will be his third straight main event and his ninth overall in the UFC (tied with Michael Bisping for most since 2014).
Source: ESPN Stats & Information
A look back
Five vs. five
"I feel if I beat Rafael on Saturday, that should put me in contention for that world title shot. I'll be on an eight-fight winning streak in one of the hardest divisions in the sport, and honestly that should put me in contention. To beat [Kamaru] Usman, the man to last beat me four years ago, in my title shot, that's the dream scenario." -- Leon Edwards, speaking to the Evening Standard of London
Giddy-up! RDA lassos Cowboy:
Brett Okamoto's pick
Despite the tough time Edwards has had attracting a big-name opponent, he has already proved to be elite. There's no doubt in my mind he belongs on the same tier as Dos Anjos and the other top welterweight contenders. That said, something tells me Dos Anjos still has some say in the 170-pound title picture. Dos Anjos by decision.
Waiting in the wings
Dos Anjos and Edwards both have visions of a title shot dancing in their heads, and they're not alone, especially at welterweight. Former champion Tyron Woodley also craves a shot at Usman, as do Colby Covington, Masvidal and what seems like dozens of others. Covington appears to have the inside track, if he can beat Robbie Lawler on Aug. 3. If Covington does get the brass ring, how about booking an Edwards-Masvidal grudge match? Imagine all of the sponsorship money at stake, with fast-food chains competing to see which one gets to tout its combos.
What to watch for (beyond the main event)
You could see this fight on SportsCenter in the morning
The night is largely about heavyweights, with three meetings of behemoths on the main card. But let's shine a light on lightweights James Vick and Dan Hooker, both of whom are must-see and both of whom have something to prove.
Vick is coming off two losses in a row after a 13-1 start to his career. Hooker had won four straight before being brutalized by Edson Barboza in December. What will it take for one of these men to get back on track? An all-action fight would do the trick for us, thank you.
You should have seen this fight on SportsCenter in 2008
When Andrei Arlovski and Ben Rothwell step in the cage for the first bout of the main card, it will not be their first meeting. But please forgive them if they don't recognize each other. They fought 11 years ago almost to the day -- July 19, 2008 -- at a big-splash event called Affliction: Banned.
What a night it was at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. What a gaggle of heavyweights. Three of them -- Arlovski, Josh Barnett and Tim Sylvia -- had worn a UFC heavyweight championship belt. And Sylvia's opponent was the most starry big boy of them all, Fedor Emelianenko, who would win the main event in 36 seconds.
How big a deal was this? Megadeth played during the event. Be your own judge of what that signifies.
Affliction: Banned had so much hype behind it that the UFC counterprogrammed the pay-per-view with a night of free fights on Spike TV. And not just any fights, either. The penny pinchers among us were treated to UFC fights featuring Anderson Silva, Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez and Anthony Johnson.
So how did Arlovski vs. Rothwell I turn out? "The Pitbull" got the KO in the third round, ending Rothwell's 13-fight winning streak.
Arlovski is 40 now, Rothwell 37. Andrei is winless in his past four, and "Big Ben" has dropped two in a row, with three years of inactivity between those bouts. Let's see what they can do for old times' sake.