Rafael dos Anjos has made it clear at this point in his career he’s not really concerned by title gold aspirations.
Former lightweight champion dos Anjos (31-14 MMA, 20-12 UFC) faces Bryan Barberena (18-8 MMA, 9-6 UFC) in a welterweight bout Saturday at UFC on ESPN 42 in Orlando, Fla. According to dos Anjos, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a return to lightweight, though it’s not completely out of the picture.
“Just for some specific fights I have in mind, I’d (drop to lightweight) again,” dos Anjos told reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday (h/t Bro Bible). “I don’t have plans to win the title in that division anymore, I’ll be honest with you. A couple guys that if it’s in good momentum for me and my personal life as well, I’ll take the fight. As of now, I have Bryan Barberena this Saturday and I’m staying at welterweight.”
With his focus on welterweight, a stamp is likely put on the notion dos Anjos won’t fight UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. The two fighters have history but have not competed against one another. Matched on multiple occasions, the bout was cursed. Even though multiple cancellations prevented it from happening, dos Anjos is at peace with it never happening.
“We were scheduled to fight a couple times, but I got injured (and) he pulled out on fight week, as well,” dos Anjos said. “We had a chance to fight at welterweight. He threw his name out there. I accepted the fight. He didn’t take it and (Renato) Moicano took it. I wouldn’t be sad (if we don’t fight).”
As for the task at hand Saturday, dos Anjos likes the matchup for multiple reasons. It’s not just a stylistically favorable matchup, said dos Anjos. The preparation for a three-round bout is less strenuous on his body, which could play into his hand.
“I’m happy with that matchup,” dos Anjos said. “He’s coming in on a (three-fight) winning streak. He’s a guy that fights forward. He’s the type of fight that I like. Being three rounds, I think of my last eight fights, seven of them were five rounds, if I’m not wrong. It was good, a little break, too, fighting three rounds. Preparation is a little easier, too. I’m happy with that matchup.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 42.