Following his convincing performance against Mark Bocek at UFC 154, an enthusiastic portion of Brazil’s specialized media has started murmuring about Rafael dos Anjos being a potential challenger to Ben Henderson’s lightweight belt.
Rafael isn’t getting caught up in the hype, though. The Roberto Gordo Jiu-Jitsu black belt knows he’s got some holes in his game to patch up and some rungs on the ladder of challengers to climb. And the best part: he’s in no hurry.
Check out what we at GRACIEMAG.com learned from him in a recent conversation:
Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu or standing and banging—which part of your performance against Josh Bocek last Saturday were you most pleased with?
I feel it was a good fight all around. I managed to impose my game plan on him and neutralize Mark’s always dangerous game. He’s a well-rounded fighter too. Where my standup is concerned, I always try to improve on where I’m weakest, which is why I trained with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA and at Black House, as well as at Evolve MMA in Singapore. Training at all these places has been beneficial to me. In the lead-up to UFC 154 I spent two weeks in Singapore working on my striking with the Thai boxing aces they have over there, and that helped me a lot.
What’s the difference between the Thai boxing training in Singapore and that with Rafa at Kings MMA in California?
With Rafael it’s MMA-geared Thai boxing, combining standup striking with takedowns and even grappling. Now, in Singapore it’s pure Thai boxing.
How many steps do you feel you are from Ben Henderson?
I don’t know how many steps away from him I am right now, but I am forging ahead on my path. All I know is that our styles are kind of different, our origins too. He comes from taekwondo and wrestling, while I come from Jiu-Jitsu.
Dana White said he intends to hold 12 events in Brazil next year. Do you expect to fight in Brazil in 2013?
It would be great. It’s been a while since I’ve had the crowd on my side (laughs).
And who will you face next? Gleison Tibau is a solid name, and one who beat you. Would you like a rematch?
I would like one. This is a really stacked division, though, so I don’t think it’s too likely.