Rafael dos Anjos Explains What Went Wrong Leading Up To His Fight With Khabib Nurmagomedov

Rafael dos Anjos gives a glimpse into what went wrong in his training camp leading up to his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Rafael dos Anjos Khabib Nurmagomedov
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael dos Anjos is looking back on a big mistake he made leading up to his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

The resume of Rafael dos Anjos is an impressive one. The former UFC lightweight champion has fought some of the best at 155 pounds. He came to the UFC back in 2008 and worked his way up to a tile shot a few years later. Along the way to the title he did lose a few fights, most notably could be the one to a young and up-coming Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

Rafael dos Anjos suffered an injury during his training camp for Nurmagomedov

In that fight that took place back in 2014, Nurmagomedov controlled dos Anjos on the ground. It was Nurmagomedov’s style to take his opponents down and grind on the mat. Nurmagomedov retired 29-0 and is said to be one of the best grapplers the UFC has ever seen. Every fighter knows going into a fight with Nurmagomedov that he will try and take them down, dos Anjos included, but he explained that he did not train grappling at all for the fight. 

“In that fight specifically I was training with Benny in the cage just us sparring. When we got close to the cage my ear got stuck in the cage, I got 14 stitches behind the ear. I went to the hospital with a loose ear,” he explained on the Brazilians MMA Legends YouTube page. “Just loose, I was shaking my head like this and the ear was also shaking. This happened around three months before the fight. I took 14 stitches in the ear. Until I got home, recovered, and regained the confidence to train grappling it took 4 to 6 weeks. I didn’t do grappling training for that fight. I was like man, I don’t want to grapple it’s crazy. So I did more Muay Thai training, strength, and training to fight the best grappler in UFC history.”

Dos Anjos moved on from that fight and went on to win the title. Nurmagomedov also moved on and went undefeated through his title reign and into retirement. No fighter in the UFC was ever able to overcome the grappling of Nurmagomedov despite their training. Dos Anjos, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, recalled just how difficult it is to be in the ground his the former champ. 

“And getting there he kept grabbing me, he played that game very well he controlled me and I couldn’t get out of the bottom. He has good control, he does that very well.  He didn’t hurt me at all it was just control he does that very well,” he said. “If I had trained well, training grappling and all I would have been able to do better, unfortunately, that is what happened.”

Dos Anjos is coming off a loss to Rafael Fiziev in July. He lost that bout by a fifth-round knockout. At this time he does not have his next fight scheduled. 

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