Rafael dos Anjos is ready to add a new chapter to his career. A former UFC lightweight champion, the Brazilian will make his debut in the welterweight division on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 111 against Tarec Saffiedine. The UFC Singapore main car bout will be the first benchmark to judge how “RDA” will fare against considerably taller and heavier athletes.
Dos Anjos himself doesn’t seem to be too worried about it. In an interview with AG. Fight, “RDA” said he can’t wait for the challenge against the Belgian striker. That’s also because he’s sure that while Saffiedine has his qualities, one of his own assets will carry him towards a victory: his greater will.
“It’s a good matchup”, dos Anjos said. “Tarec [Saffiedine] is a good muay thai fighter, he’s good standing up and at defending takedowns, but he is a guy who fights not to lose; he’s very strategic. He doesn’t come to set the pace, he shows up to fight three rounds. But I think the breaking point will be the question who really wants [it] more. And I don’t think he’s hungry for victory any more than I am. My style of going forward will make the difference.”
Dos Anjos is sure that he’ll be able to fight more aggressively also because he doesn’t have to cut down all the way to 155 pounds anymore, a process that the Brazilian said brought him close to death on multiple occasions in the past.
“I’m 32 years old and I’m a new fighter”, dos Anjos said. “At lightweight, I had already done what I had to do and it was difficult to make the weight. I think I’ve lost my last two fights for that reason. If I had won, I might even be trying [to keep fighting at lightweight] and even die. I was afraid of death. I saw that my body was different [when I was cutting weight], I had a fast heartbeat. Surely this was affecting my performances and I couldn’t do [that] anymore. But I think I can reach the top of the [welterweight] division and that is my goal.”
Having fought at 155 pounds for years and having been champion at lightweight for over a year, dos Anjos knows the division like few others. When former opponent Donald Cerrone went up to welterweight, though, and got stellar results, dos Anjos began contemplating the same move. Now, the Brazilian is following Cerrone into the shark tank that is the welterweight division.
If you ask him, though, 170 pounds can’t be any tougher than the division he’s coming from.
“Lightweight has a lot more fighters and variety. Welterweight also has that, but lightweight is considered the most difficult [division in the UFC]. There are some lightweights going up to welterweight and [they’re] having good results. But if I compare, I think lightweight is a lot harder.”
Dos Anjos is coming off two straight defeats and needs a victory at UFC Singapore in order to stop his negative streak. Saffiedine, at the same time, is also under pressure, having won only one of his last three bouts.