Healthy and fresh from his April win over Terry Etim, Rafael dos Anjos tries to add another name to his victims' list when he battles Clay Guida this Saturday on UFC 117's main card...
The internet has its power, and the speed at which information can get disseminated around the globe is often the goal, even if this information isn’t always one hundred percent accurate. And oftentimes, even the subject of such news gets surprised by what he is reading about himself when stories take on a life of their own.
Rio de Janeiro native Rafael dos Anjos - who fights Clay Guida this weekend - had this exact feeling a couple weeks ago. Contacted by many people inquiring about his health, dos Anjos went on the internet to check the bad news about an illness he sustained and that was going to jeopardize his participation on the main card of UFC 117. But in fact, dos Anjos is still wondering how the ‘news’ got to this point.
"One month ago I got the flu and I had a fever, but it wasn't like I read on the internet," he said. "I got through it and nothing will stop me from competing, I'm 100%. I think someone misunderstood a small time I took off training to rest, with something really serious that never happened. I'm very well for the fight."
Perhaps it’s part of the job now for dos Anjos, whose stock has skyrocketed in recent months. Fighting on a main card of the UFC for the second time and taking on a very well known and charismatic fighter in Guida next, the stakes are higher than ever, and it’s hard for him to control what's around him like he was able to do when fighting on preliminary cards.
"The proportion that it got to was enormous; sadly, a small comment became big and the size of a flu followed it. I think we have more people in the academy or just a teammate didn't realize that now the usual things are maximized and secrecy is important. This was just a flu, but at the same time some strategy could've reached Guida's camp like my health situation. Anyway, it didn't harm any of my intentions for this weekend."
Handling the situation well, dos Anjos doesn't bother himself with such talk, even when people come to him to ask about the illness or to check if he'll have to prove a bit more cardio wise in the fight, especially against Guida, who seems to have 10 lungs.
"I'm better than before, and I'm going the same way I went into my other UFC fights, super well prepared," he said. "I know Clay Guida's conditioning is excellent, but my technique is better and I know I have much more chances of winning than him."
The owner of the Submission of the Night award from UFC 112, dos Anjos his ground skills more against Terry Etim last April than he did in his prior two fights. And though his previous travels to Singapore showed us a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt with sharpened hands, knees and kicks, he says that just because he polished his Muay Thai doesn't mean that he forgot his roots in BJJ.
"I look for more training where I think I have a bit more difficulties,” said dos Anjos. “BJJ I’ve trained a long time, but I never stop with my BJJ training, reviewing techniques and stuff. But against Etim his reach advantage was a problem and his striking was good, so I tried to bring him to the ground where I saw an easier way to beat him."
If for the last fight Singapore was his home, for this fight against Guida, dos Anjos brought his Muay Thai master to Rio de Janeiro and made the beautiful city a home for the Thai instructor, as Kru Toy of Sityodtong landed in the Gracie Fusion/Evolve MMA gym. Plus, dos Anjos had an extra help this time as Pride FC vet and MMA pioneer Jose Mario 'Zen Machine' Sperry shared his amount of knowledge with the 25-year old UFC lightweight.
"Since I fought in Abu Dhabi last time, Singapore was a good home because I could adapt quickly to the jet lag. This time, I’m fighting in the USA, and I took advantage of Kru Toy coming to visit Rio for the first time and absorbed his specific details of Muay Thai. Sperry also has a lot of experience; he teaches pretty well and he's one of the fundamental keys for me in my search to come out victorious. All has been done and this fight will be 'the fight.'"
By the end of a good day of training, dos Anjos talks about the good part of being on the main card of a UFC event for the third time (second on PPV) as he plans to become a known lightweight in the biggest MMA promotion.
"I take as motivation the steps and recognition I had during my five UFC fights," he says. "The good results catapulted to two PPV main cards and I want to stay here and please fans and the organization. I took all the challenges in front of me, my level is increasing, and my objective is to deliver on the expectations, as I still have much more to conquer."
Taking on the man who holds three 'Fight of the Night' and one 'Submission of the Night' awards in Guida, dos Anjos hopes to keep climbing the UFC lightweight rankings. His analysis of his next foe reveals that he sees more willpower than technique, and dos Anjos already knows what he wants bring home besides his paycheck and one more win.
"I believe the frenetic pace is his style,” he said. “When you watch his fights of two years ago, it's the same. So I believe he's very good, but he didn't evolve during this time. He goes after you, has good cardio and many contenders fought him before a title shot; however, this fight is for me. Each fight is a climb, and Guida is a higher climb than my last fight; overcoming it, I'll be in a good place like I was after beating Etim, who was coming off four consecutive wins. Now if I roll through Guida, this will be another bigger step.”