An Inside Look At Rafael Dos Anjos

21 Jul , 2018,
Jordan Bryant

There aren’t many serious MMA fans who haven’t heard of Rafael Dos Anjos, a respected and feared welterweight fighter. Rafael is a dangerous Brazilian 3rd degree Jiu-Jitsu black belt, who has notable victories over dangerous fighters like Robbie Lawler, Donald Cerrone, and Nate Diaz. RDA is an elite striker in the eyes of many, a dangerous jiu-jitsu ace and one of the greatest Lightweights of his generation.


Born the capital of Brazil, Rio de Janiero, in 1984 to a modest family, Rafael was constantly getting involved in street fights in school and in the harsh streets of Rio.

This led to a young RDA being introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of nine. He was inspired after watching a Rickson Gracie fight, “Vale Tudo Japan”, an early televised Japanese MMA tournament. According to Dos Anjos, once he began training the street fighting quickly stopped.

Rafael over the years earned his blue belt at the age of 16 under the tutelage of Mr. Barradas. He quickly went on to make a name for himself at Blue Belt by winning a National Championship. RDA was quickly promoted to Purple Belt, where he continued to have success winning the Rio de Janeiro State Championship then the World Championship.

RDA continued his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and won 3rd place at the Brazilian National BJJ Championship on two occasions as a Brown Belt. This earned him a coveted spot in a restricted group of National Medalist.

Eventually, RDA accomplished the ultimate goal of any Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, being awarded his Black Belt in 2005.

MMA Career

After fighting in smaller organizations throughout Brazil, RDA made his UFC debut at UFC 91. He was slated to fight an up and coming fighter Jeremy Stephens. RDA would go on to lose in the third round after an uppercut shut him down.

In his second bout, Dos Anjos was slated to fight a very game Tyson Griffin at UFC Fight Night 18. After a back-and-forth war that showcased heart, skill and technique, the fight ended in a unanimous decision loss for Dos Anjos. However, the fight was awarded Fight of the Night honors and Rafael’s stock in the UFC increased.

In his return to the octagon, Dos Anjos needed a win and was slated to fight Matt Wiman. However, on short notice due to injury Wiman was replaced by Rob Emerson. Dos Anjos would later secure a much-needed win by unanimous decision. He would go on to ink out a win against Kyle Bradley via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 20.

In his return, he would go on to finish Terry Etim via second round armbar submission, earning Submission of the Night honors. Next, he was scheduled to face a very dangerous Clay Guida.

Guida would go on to inflict significant damage to Dos Anjos jaw after connecting flush with a hook. Guida would go on to secure a submission victory by forcing Dos Anjos to tap from the pressure being applied from head-and-arm control.

After the loss, Dos Anjos would later fight George Sotiropoulos at UFC 132. Dos Anjos would go on to showcase his highly improved striking skills, stopping Sotiropoulos cold in the first round.

Dos Anjos would go on to fight Gleison Tibau at UFC 139, losing by split decision.

Road To the UFC Lightweight Championship

After a string of notable high performance wins over fighters like Benson Henderson via KO and Nate Diaz, it was time to challenge for the belt.

Dos Anjos was scheduled to face Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, a striking wizard who can grapple with the best of them. Dos Anjos came into the fight an underdog, but would go on to lay down a one sided beating. Dos Anjos won all five rounds in decisive manner.

In his first title defense RDA came face to face with Donald Cerrone in the main event at UFC on Fox 17. He won the fight via TKO just 66 seconds into the first round and earned the fastest finish in UFC lightweight title history. The win would earn him his third Performance of the Night bonus award.

Dos Anjos was expected to fight Conor McGregor at UFC 196 for his second title defense of the lightweight belt. However, he was forced out of the bout due to breaking his foot during training.

In his second title defense he fought Eddie ‘The Underground King’ Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 90. Despite closing as a favorite in the fight, he lost via TKO in the first round. However, after the fight it came to light that he had passed out minutes before fighting due to the effects of the weight cut.

Grappling Pedigree

  • Brazilian National Bronze Medallist (2004, 2005 – Brown Belt Division)
  • European Bronze Medallist (2006 – Black Belt)
  • World Champion (2003 – Purple Belt Division)

About the Author:

I’m an avid Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and lead wordsmith at BJJ Informer.

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