Recently crowned UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos is currently in Singapore where he has resumed light training at Evolve MMA. Just don’t expect the champ, who is set to defend his belt against the winner of the forthcoming fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone, to be back in the Octagon any time soon.
“I fought a lot last year, my body is tired and needs to recover, but I hope to defend my title this year after I am 100-percent healthy again,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Dos Anjos dominated an opponent who was being touted as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, defeating Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision at UFC 185. This achievement is even more impressive when you take into consideration that the Brazilian was fighting with a knee injury that he says will take some time to heal.
“I am always coming to Singapore to train, but this time I did only light training to give my knee some recovery. Evolve MMA is my home in Asia. I am so happy to be able to bring the belt here.”
Dos Anjos has been the subject of intense media scrutiny in Singapore, where seminars, autograph signings, and photo shoots have all been organized. He’s been a part of Evolve MMA for six years and credits the camp, along with Kings MMA in California, with helping transform him from a struggling UFC lightweight to the division’s dominant fighter.
“It means a lot for me because I have been part of the Evolve Fight Team since 2009 and at that moment I was at the beginning of my UFC career. I could not reach to the top without help from Evolve and my title belongs to both Kings MMA and Evolve MMA.”
Dos Anjos recently conducted a joint seminar with Evolve teammate Shinya Aoki. He has been training alongside the Japanese lightweight, who has a title defense booked for Singapore next month. The Brazilian believes that the reigning ONE Championship 155-pounds beltholder would be able to hold his own inside the Octagon.
“I train with Shinya. He is my teammate. For sure he is a great fighter with talent who would do well anywhere in the world.”
Dos Anjos will be in attendance at UFC Fight Night Manila next month when his longterm training partner Frankie Edgar will be headlining and he’s also going to spend a few weeks training with Ben Askren, who has a ONE Championship title defense booked for the same city in two week’s time.
Although both Dos Anjos and Askren represent Evolve MMA when they fight, this will be the first time they have trained together and the Brazilian says he is looking forward to picking up some tips from one of the best wrestlers in the sport.
“Ben arrives in Singapore this week and for sure I am looking forward to training together. To be the best you need to train with the best and I work with all the trainers here; the Muay Thai guys have helped to change my striking game completely.”
Few people had tipped Dos Anjos to defeat Pettis, but perhaps the most surprising aspect was just how dominant the Brazilian was. He was superior to the former champion in every department and controlled the fight for a full 25 minutes. The 30-year-old is a completely different fighter to the one who went 0-2 at the start of his UFC career and posted losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gleison Tibau, Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, and Jeremy Stephens.
Unless injuries strike, Dos Anjos’ next fight will be a rematch, either with Nurmagomedov, who was the last man to defeat him, or Donald Cerrone, whom he has already beaten once. Nurmagomedov and Cerrone are set to face off on the stacked UFC 187 card, but the Brazilian says he has no preference as to who wins.
“All I know is that they are both really tough guys and it will be a good fight for sure.”
The win over Pettis was Dos Anjos’ fifth fight in the space of under 12 months. With the belt already secured and a knee problem to recover from, he is understandably not in a hurry to get back in the Octagon, but says he plans to stay in shape and keep training until the call comes to fight again.
“I will be back to Singapore next month after UFC Manila. Everybody here was with me since the beginning and we are like a big family. The trainers always believed in me and being able to come here as a UFC champion is like a dream come true.”
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