As he enters UFC 139, Rafael Dos Anjos may be one of the most overlooked prospects in the lightweight division.
Currently, Dos Anjos sports a 4-3 record in the Octagon, but after suffering consecutive defeats to kick off his UFC career, the Brazilian has gone 4-1 with his only loss coming by way of injury in a fight with Clay Guida.
In his last fight out, Dos Anjos crushed former top ten lightweight George Sotiropoulos with a nasty punch to get a knockout in less than one minute. But despite his rousing success of late, Dos Anjos has continued to slip under the radar as he comes into his next fight at UFC 139 against American Top Team fighter Gleison Tibau.
Tibau is not only regarded as one of the toughest match-ups in the lightweight division, but also one of the biggest challenges. Literally.
Dos Anjos’ fellow Brazilian is a gargantuan for the weight class, but there was no sparing for preparation to get ready for the American Top Teamer. Over the last several months, Dos Anjos has worked with everyone from UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, to middleweight Mark Munoz as well as traveling to Singapore to work with Evolve MMA.
In other words, Dos Anjos spared no expense to make sure he had the training necessary to get the win on Saturday night.
“He is a tough fighter,” Dos Anjos said. “I have respect for him, but I am training hard for this fight. I will be ready.”
While Dos Anjos admits he was ‘very happy’ with the knockout over Sotiropoulos, the next fight is what’s most important. With four wins in fight fights, Dos Anjos wants to make it five out of six as he pushes forward in a very tough UFC lightweight division.
“I will fight anyone that the UFC wants me to fight,” Dos Anjos stated. “I believe in myself. My dream is to be world champion.”
In his time training over the last few months, Dos Anjos really has worked with a who’s who of MMA talent. He traveled to New Jersey where he worked alongside UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and picked up some training tips before working with Mark Munoz to brush up on his wrestling.
“Frankie is the UFC lightweight world champion, he is a great fighter and a very nice guy,” said Dos Anjos. ” We had a fun time training together.
“My wrestling improved a lot (working with Mark Munoz). I feel more comfortable with my takedowns and takedown defense.”
Outside of his training at home in Brazil, Dos Anjos spent the majority of his time for this fight working with the team at Evolve MMA in Singapore. The team has built up quite a reputation of late working with fighters like Dos Anjos as well as Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.
Dos Anjos says it was the perfect place to get ready for a fight like this one because they are one big family and their entire focus is on getting better.
Now as he faces Gleison Tibau at UFC 139, Dos Anjos hopes to show that off to the world.
“It will be a very exciting fight,” said Dos Anjos. “Tibau is one of the biggest and strongest lightweights, I will do my best.”
(James Goyder also contributed to this story)