Rafael dos Anjos is the former UFC lightweight champion and it’s not a title he is happy with. The Brazilian wants his belt back and knows he can take a big step in the right direction by beating Tony Ferguson on Nov. 5 in Mexico City.
The UFC Fight Night 98 headliner has experienced some changes since he was stopped by Eddie Alvarez in July. Losing his belt taught him lessons both inside and outside of the cage.
“I learned how people treat you when you have the belt and how they treat you when you don't have it. From now on, I will keep the right people in my friendship circle.”
Dos Anjos has also changed his training routine. He is no longer with Kings MMA, but is putting together his own team in California.
“I'm training with Philipe Della Monica, Eduardo Pachu, Beneil Dariush, Edwin Najmi, Arthur Estrazulas, Rodel Mayol. I'm representing Evolve MMA and myself, Team RDA.”
Ferguson is currently ranked No. 3 in the division after eight straight wins, while dos Anjos sits at No. 2. The winner will be in a very strong position to demand a title shot and dos Anjos is determined to get his belt back.
“He's a very well rounded fighter. He's coming of eight fight win streak. It will be a good match. I think whoever wins the fight deserves a title shot.”
Dos Anjos was initially scheduled to make the second defense of his belt against Conor McGregor, but couldn’t fight because of a broken foot. It was frustrating for a fighter who is not exactly a habitual offender when it comes to pulling out of bouts due to injury.
“I wasn't disappointed just because of the pay day, I got disappointed because I didn't fight due to injury. That was the first time this happen on my career.”
Unlike some of the fighters on the UFC roster, dos Anjos is not obsessed with securing a lucrative match-up with McGregor. He expects the Irishman to overcome Alvarez, but is focused on the belt rather than any particular opponent.
“(Fighting McGregor) is not my goal, my goal is get my belt back. If he has the title and don't want to hide it like he's doing with the 145-pound title, I'll be ready to take it back.”
This will be the first time that dos Anjos has fought on a UFC card in Mexico, and he is excited about it.
“UFC is growing a lot in Latin America and I'm very happy to be part of it.”
Compared to dos Anjos and Ferguson, the other fighters at the top of the lightweight rankings are relative newcomers, at least in terms of actual Octagon experience. Alvarez has four UFC fights, Nurmagomedov has seven, while divisional newcomer McGregor has nine.
By contrast, dos Anjos has fought 20 times for the UFC, while Ferguson has appeared on 12 cards as well as winning TUF 13. The Brazilian has been on the roster since 2008 and the American was signed in 2011, making them two of the most seasoned fighters in the 155-pound division.
They have both paid their dues and dos Anjos believes this experience gives them an advantage over the other lightweights.
“I think we both are very familiar with the Octagon, that's good for both of us.”
However, only one man will emerge victorious at Mexico City Arena. The winner will be within touching distance of a title shot, while the loser faces the daunting prospect of having to work their way back up the rankings again.
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