Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (29-11) has accomplished a great deal over his nearly 15 years as a professional MMA fighter. What makes him special to his coach Jason Parillo, however, is something much quieter.
“What makes him a special fighter and a special athlete? His resilience. The way he stays hungry and trains the way he does,” Parillo told Yahoo Sports.
“He comes to the gym like a 20-year-old. Obviously, he has much more maturity and experience than a 20-year-old, but what I mean is how he stays hungry. He knows that fighting is his main means of feeding his family. Fighting is only so long, 10, 15 years if you’re lucky, and then you have the rest of your life to live. He has a great understanding that life is not going to stop after fighting, so you’ve got to keep plugging away and earn as much as you can. He also has goals. He wants to leave a mark on this sport. When he ends up getting the welterweight title, he’ll become one of the few people to have ever won championships at two weight classes.”
Edwards is seven years younger than the Brazilian, and riding a seven-fight win-streak, but Parillo knows that his charge is as hungry as anyone in the world, despite being a veteran of 40 professional fights.
Dos Anjos’ work ethic is rare, according to the coach. “I think you see it more in champions,” he explained.
“Champions have a lil’ special quality. He’s a champion. They realize it’s what got him the title, that work ethic, that understanding of what they’ve got to put into it. They work so hard to get to the titles and they know that if they go any less than that, it won’t work. You can’t not put 100% into it if you want to be the best in the world.”
With that said, every champion stops, eventually. Parillo sees no signs of stopping in the 34-year-old.
“It’s hard to not get burnt out,” he continued.
“But Rafa doesn’t live like a rockstar, and I really do think that does play a part. He lives a clean life, lives a good life. When people have drinking habits, drug habits, they put their social life to the forefront. You see those types of guys get more burnt out. Rafa’s life is just about his family and being the best he’s got to be.”
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