UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos may have put on the most impressive performance of 2015 when he dominated Anthony Pettis over the course of five rounds to win the belt at March 14’s UFC 185 pay-per-view (PPV) from Dallas, Texas, but there’s still one fight that hangs over his head.
The fight is his recent loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC on FOX 11, a fight where the Dagestan wrestler dominated dos Anjos with a nonstop mix of takedowns and striking pressure to secure a clear unanimous decision win.
Dos Anjos will most likely face off with “The Eagle” again if Nurmagomedov can defeat Donald Cerrone on the main card of May 23’s UFC 187. He recently spoke up to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz to give his opinion that while Nurmagomedov clearly beat him, he didn’t do any damage in the process:
“He’s a tough guy, but I fought again 45 days after facing him,” dos Anjos said. “I was calling my manager ten minutes after the fight and asking to fight again. ‘If someone gets hurt next week, I want to fight’. He didn’t hurt me. He just held me down and killed my game. It was basically a grappling match. He has a strong game close to the fence. Not chasing him maybe is a good strategy.”
Currently on the sidelines mending from a torn MCL suffered in the lead-up to UFC 185, dos Anjos seems fixated on avenging the loss to Nurmagomedov. He again admitted that “The Eagle” was the better man, but also downplayed the loss:
“No excuse, he was better that night. I was under pressure, I had issues before that fight, but he was better. Next time, the fight will be different. I only lost one of my last 10 fights. I want to clear that up.”
With a tentative date with the only man to beat him since 2011 on his plate, dos Anjos will now face the long wait of healing up and then returning to a full training camp. He gave a six-month timetable to get back into championship shape:
I believe I will be cleared to train hard in three months, and then I will need at least three months to get ready for a title fight.”
The surprising new champion emerged from his last fight with the belt, but he wasn’t without his fair share of wounds to show for it. Will he able to improve enough to defeat Nurmagomedov in a rematch (if there is one)?
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