Dos Anjos interested in Khabib rematch, warns McGregor to stay at featherweight

Over the past year, Rafael dos Anjos has compiled a four-fight win streak in the UFC en route to capturing the promotion's lightweight title.…

By: Karim Zidan | 8 years ago
Dos Anjos interested in Khabib rematch, warns McGregor to stay at featherweight
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Over the past year, Rafael dos Anjos has compiled a four-fight win streak in the UFC en route to capturing the promotion’s lightweight title. Now, following a successful surgery, the Brazilian will sit back and await the next title challenger to show himself in the division.

Interestingly, he has already faced the fighters in the title eliminator bout, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone. The former is the last man to defeat the champion just over a year ago. Poised for a title shot, Nurmagomedov suffered a significant knee injury and was forced onto the sidelines until several months ago.

Bothered by the only blemish on his record since 2012, dos Anjos will be routing for Khabib so that he could avenge his loss to the Dagestani before the end of the year.

“I don’t want to make any excuses but I had a couple of issues before the Khabib fight,” dos Anjos told Submission Radio. “But man, no excuses. He did a great job, he did the perfect strategy. He was able to hold me down and keep the pressure. I wasn’t able to defend his takedown, but man for sure. I’m a different fighter now and at that time I was fighting with a lot of pressure because I was thinking about my title shot and all those things, and I was under pressure, but man for sure the next fight will be different if he beats Cerrone. I think, man it’s going to be a different fight.

“I’m a complete fighter now. I have extra confidence.”

Dos Anjos admitted to overtraining ahead of the Nurmagomedov fight, as well as to a groin injury that seemingly hampered his performance. This time around, he will be ready to implement an entirely new approach.

“I’m going to do a different strategy. I’m gonna focus for sure on my wrestling, which is his main game. He’s going to try and take me down, I do the same thing because I don’t fear all the ways he can beat me, and he’s going to do that game. The wrestling game against the cage. It’s a pretty tough game. I’m going to make sure my submission attempts are going to be sharp, my wrestling defense sharp, and looking for the knockout, submission. Looking for the finish to clean that loss of my record.”

Once the potential rematch with Khabib is behind him, dos Anjos is open to fighting featherweight title challenger Conor McGregor.

“Yeah for sure man, It’d be great. Like Aldo’s fight, it would be good for both of us, and to get this guy would be good. If he’s featherweight division champion….if he becomes the champion and I’m a lightweight champion, why not. Let’s make it happen. If UFC want it – and I never pick fights, you know my whole life. So whatever the UFC say, I’m up for.”

McGregor himself suggested that he would come up to lightweight to beat dos Anjos. The Brazilian did not take McGregor’s words kindly.

“Man I don’t know how this guy thinks that. He flatters himself too much. I don’t see any way [McGregor could beat him]. I can stop the fight with him in my closed guard, I can stop [the fight] on bottom. Whatever position he wants. There’s no way he can beat me. I don’t see, like any way. He’s a good fighter, but he needs to take care of the featherweight division first. Man, lightweight division is a shark tank, you know? He better stay in featherweight division.”

Transcription taken from Submission Radio.

Share this story

About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

More from the author

Recent Stories