Rafael dos Anjos doesn’t believe a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov will go the same way.
Dos Anjos suffered a unanimous decision defeat to Nurmagomedov when they competed in a lightweight matchup back in 2014.
Although the fight happened before either men went on to become lightweight champion, it’s interesting to look back on as Nurmagomedov’s dominant grappling was on display even back then against a top-level fighter in Dos Anjos.
With “RDA” recently slated to fight Islam Makhachev until injury ruled himself out and given his recent struggles against top-level wrestlers, many observers feel Dos Anjos would lose against the latter or Nurmagomedov if they fought again today.
However, Dos Anjos certainly doesn’t feel that way.
“A lot of people say about Khabib, ‘Khabib beat you!’ He beat me that day. It doesn’t mean if we’re gonna fight again, he’s going to beat me,” Dos Anjos told RT. “I respect his story, he retired with a perfect record. But man, this sport is cruel.
“He beat me that day, doesn’t mean he’s gonna beat me again. He was better than me that night, that’s it.”
Dos Anjos: I Had Zero Wrestling Training For Nurmagomedov
Dos Anjos went on to reveal that he had zero wrestling or grappling preparation for the Nurmagomedov fight due to an ear injury suffered during training camp.
He also explained why Nurmagomedov and Makhachev are two different fighters despite both being very similar and ground game-oriented.
“No, they’re two different guys,” Dos Anjos said in response to a fan question. “Not many people know before the Khabib fight, I was training and my ear — I still have that picture — my ear got stuck on the cage and I pretty much almost lost my ear. I had 14 stitches on the back of my ear… there was exactly seven weeks before the fight. I had zero wrestling training for the fight, zero grappling. I didn’t want to touch anybody, didn’t want my ear to rip off again. I also managed to do a vegan diet for that match so I can make weight easier. I kind of felt weak. I’m not making any excuses but like I said, he was better than me that night. In a different night, it could be different.
“Definitely, Khabib and Islam are two different guys with two different techniques. They pretty much want to take you to the ground and finish you but the approaches are different. First of all, Islam is is southpaw, Khabib is orthodox so it makes a big difference on the setups. It’s just like working a different takedown defense for both of them.”
You can watch the full interview below: