When Joe Rogan claimed last November that Rafael dos Anjos had passed out for three minutes during an attempt to make 155lbs for his unsuccessful UFC lightweight title defence against Eddie Alvarez in July, one hoped that the veteran UFC commentator had been misinformed.
However, when he went on an early January edition of The MMA Hour to speak about his recently announced move to welterweight, Dos Anjos revealed that he had lost consciousness not once but on three occasions during that cut.
Now, in an interview with ESPN, the Brazilian has gone into even more detail about the scary events that occurred in the lead-up to his first-round knockout loss to Alvarez and in the process has confirmed the veracity of Rogan’s earlier claims about the length of time he had spent unconscious.
“Everything was on plan. We had 3 pounds to lose the morning of the weigh-in,” said Dos Anjos, perhaps making the story that followed even more unsettling. “The night before, we had lost 8 or 9 pounds during training. I jumped in the [Epsom salt] bath for 15 minutes, and when I stood up, I felt dizzy. I sat down again on the edge of the bath and felt OK, started to stand up again, and I just fell backward. My head was two inches from the faucet. I could have died that day.”
“My coaches took me out of the bath and placed me on the bed. I came back for a couple seconds and passed out again. I came back and passed out a third time. I was almost out for three minutes, they said. At one point, they said, ‘Let’s call 911 and cancel the fight.’ I woke up and asked them what was going on. And after all that, I still didn’t know if I had made the weight. So I had to check my weight, but I couldn’t stand up. I lied down with a cold towel on my head. It took me about 40 minutes to get up. I checked my weight, and it said 155. If I hadn’t been on weight, there’s no way I could do any more. I couldn’t do it. On the walk to the weigh-ins, I was just feeling miserable.”
A wide, looping right-hand from Alvarez robbed ‘RDA’ of his equilibrium just under three minutes into their fight the following evening, and he never really regained full control over his limbs or balance, leaving him incapable of surviving the challenger’s relentless onslaught. Dos Anjos’ championship reign, which had looked destined to be a lengthy and famous one, came to an end at the 3:49 mark in what was only his second title defence.
The events of the previous day must have played a role in his demise.
“I have a strong mind, so I was feeling ready to go,” Dos Anjos told journalist Brett Okamoto. “One strange thing, though, my training partners noticed during warm-ups that I wasn’t sweating as much as usual. My body kind of shut down, and I wasn’t sweating. When I got hit in the fight, it wasn’t like — I’ve gotten hit harder than that before — but I just lost my legs. It was weird. I want to give credit to Alvarez, but for sure, the weight cut affected me a little bit.”
The Alvarez fight might have marked the end of his title reign but not of his campaign at 155lbs. Four months later, Dos Anjos once again made the dicey cut, this time for a fight with rampaging and highly-ranked contender Tony Ferguson in Mexico City.
After the events of that July, why did Dos Anjos decide to tempt fate once again?
“The problem was that I started thinking, ‘I just passed out because I stood up too fast. Next time, I will make sure I don’t stand up fast,'” explained the fighter.
The cut for the Ferguson fight wasn’t quite as harrowing as it’s predecessor, but it was still an arduous process.
“We took care of everything, and still, I almost passed out. It was hard for me. I just thought I had made a mistake against Alvarez and I would be able to avoid making that mistake again, but I think cutting to 155 is just too stressful.”
Once again Dos Anjos didn’t look himself against ‘El Cucuy’, although that was at least partly down to Ferguson’s reach advantage, conditioning and unorthodox skills. After five rounds of action, Ferguson was declared the unanimous decision winner.
Thankfully Dos Anjos, who admits that he is currently walking around at 200lbs, has since decided that he is better suited to the welterweight division and is hoping to make his debut against a ranked 170-pounder.