Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos believes experience will be key to win his next fight. Paired up against rising contender Islam Makhachev for a battle of generations in October, the Brazilian does not mind his opponent’s hype. since he believes to be the more tested man of the two.
In an interview with Ag Fight, Rafael revealed that Islam was not his first choice for his next outing, but accepted because he wanted to stay active. Now officially set to take on Makhachev, ‘RDA’ believes that the latest changes he made to his work ethic will prove to be effective when he meets the Russian in the Octagon.
“Makhachev was behind me in the rankings, then all of sudden he took a leap and he’s now ahead of me,” dos Anjos said. “Unfortunately, that’s the way the UFC is now. Everyone wants to fight whoever is ahead of them in order to get a better spot. I used to have my eyes on Chandler and Gaethje before. At the time, Gaethje thought he would fight for the belt and Chandler said he would fight in December and I needed to fight.
“I’m a better fighter than Makhachev,” he added. “I’m more tested than him. I’ve been through several kinds of situations. I’ve fought anyone you can imagine. I fought for the title in two different divisions. I’m in a good moment now. I’m hungry. I’ve done some drastic changes to my career. I’m living in Rio, I’m in Brazil again. I’m focused. I want to be a champion again and I will.”
After a brief period of back-and-forth taunting on the internet between both men, Rafael is ready to leave the talking aside and meet Islam in the cage. Although the Russian has the support of former champions such as Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov at the American Kickboxing Academy, RDA is confident that he knows what he needs to do in order to get the job done.
“We’ve been talking trash on the internet, but we’re finally going to settle the score,” dos Anjos said. “It’s a good fight to put me in the mix, especially now that he has all this hype around him. I’ll show that I’m still alive, that I’m still competitive. I’m fully confident that I’ll beat Makhachev. When you have guys like Cormier and Khabib talking all the time, it creates even more hype. I take Dariush as an example. He beat the same guys as Makhachev, even more convincingly. But nobody talks about him. He beat Thiago (Moises) and went to the number five spot in the rankings.”
In his last outing, dos Anjos (30-13) defeated Paul Felder via split decision, back in November 2020. The win marked the 36-year-old’s return to the lightweight division and snapped a two-fight losing skid, with unanimous decision defeats to Michael Chiesa and Leon Edwards.
Now, Rafael is expected to take on Makhachev at UFC 267, on October 30, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The card is set to be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between the champion, Jan Blachowicz, and challenger Glover Teixeira.