On December 19th, Rafael dos Anjos dismantled Donald Cerrone in 66 soul-crushing seconds to retain the UFC lightweight championship.
It was a thoroughly devastating display from the Kings MMA athlete, and couldn’t be construed as anything other than a statement of utter supremacy. There was no denying that Dos Anjos was leagues ahead of the American.
Despite the ease with which he dispatched of Cerrone, however, the Brazilian believes that “Cowboy” is actually a better fighter than his upcoming opponent, Conor McGregor. In fact, Dos Anjos told Sherdog that another one of his first round victims, Ben Henderson, is also more skilled than the gregarious Irishman.
The champ made it clear though, that this belief would in no way change his mindset or preparation heading into his massive UFC 197 bout with division climbing featherweight titleholder.
“I think both Cerrone and Henderson are better fighters than McGregor,” said RDA. “A fight is a fight and I respect all my opponents in the same manner. I’ll train hard as always, and when I step into the Octagon, I’ll be even better than last time. One thing is for sure: When I put my hands on him, he will have nightmares about the lightweight division for a long time”.
“I don’t only have one strategy. I fight stand-up. I fight on the ground. What will make the difference is the volume of my game: takedowns, stand-up, kicking and punching. Wherever the fight goes, it will be bad and I will hurt him”.
The universal respect Dos Anjos claims to have for his competition wasn’t exactly evident when he spoke about the recent press conference for the March 5th event, however.
The protector of the 155lb strap stated that was in no way amused by “The Notorious” one’s outlandish antics at the media junket and, like his countryman Jose Aldo did before him, Dos Anjos referred to McGregor as a “joker”.
“Of course, being in a press conference is part of our job, but it’s not a good experience to sit for more than an hour listening to a joker perform his routine. That wasn’t funny to me”.
Is this echoing of the defeated Aldo’s sentiments an ominous foreshadowing of things to come?