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PRO MMA Brazilian spotlight: Rafael dos Anjos

Although Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Rafael dos Anjos has lost both his fights since arriving in the UFC in November 2008, he has actually looked quite impressive. With a record of 11-4 and only 24-years-old, this young man is only getting started.

In both his UFC fights he has twisted his opponents into human pretzels with very unique submission holds with the bell saving his opponents both times. Rafael even won “Fight of the Night” honors in his last bout with Tyson Griffin at “UFC Fight Night 18″ in Nashville, Tennessee on April 1st.

PRO MMA (promma.info) had the great pleasure of speaking to Rafael this week to talk about his last couple of fights, his time with the UFC, his background, his opinion on fellow Brazilian Anderson Silva, fighters he likes to watch, and more.  

PRO MMA: Hello Rafael. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). We really appreciate it.
RAFAEL: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak in this interview.

PRO MMA: First of all I would like to say congratulations on your “Fight of the Night” bonus at “UFC Fight Night 18” in Nashville. I know that you did not get the win but it was an exciting fight. I was there live to witness it and I know the UFC was pleased with the fight as well, so for that I say congratulations. What was your opinion of the fight and how would you rate your performance?
RAFAEL: I think it was a very tough fight and I was well prepared. I think the only error I made was not taking him down at the end of the rounds, as he was going after the take-downs at the end of all the rounds. The striking was balanced between us.

PRO MMA: Tell us about that leg compression submission you had him in. What do you call that move? Did you think he was going to tap out at that time?
RAFAEL: It was a “chave de panturrilha” (calf slicer). I wasn’t real confident in it at first but felt the pressure on my own shin, knew it was hurting him and gave it my all. But he was a warrior and held out, even injuring himself in the end.

PRO MMA: Was there anything about Tyson Griffin that surprised you in that fight? Was there anything he did that you did not expect?
RAFAEL: No. How he fought and the image I had in mind, since the fight was signed is more or less the same, which was a fight that would remain standing most of the time.

PRO MMA: What was your opinion of Nashville? Did you get to walk around the city or go out at all?
RAFAEL: I thought it was real cool, it had a country style, never been to a city like it. No, I didn’t go out.

PRO MMA: Rafael, please tell us about your martial arts background. How did you become a professional fighter and who are the fighters and trainers who have been the major influences for you?
RAFAEL: I began training Jiu-Jitsu with Caveirinha, he awarded me my black belt. I began fighting Vale Tudo professionally at age 19. My influence came in great part from watching Rickson Gracie in the Japan Open (on TV).

PRO MMA: What gyms here in America do you like to train with when you come over?
RAFAEL: Until now I have not trained in any academies there. All of my training is done here in Brazil.

PRO MMA: Rafael, how did you end up fighting for the UFC? As far as I know you had never fought in North America prior to UFC 91 so how did the UFC “discover” you?
RAFAEL: I was on a 9 fight winning streak with 6 finishes, had fought in Pancrase Japan (finished my opponent in 1 min. 40 sec.), won the Lightweight Belt in Fury FC (Brazil’s top promotion).

PRO MMA: How would you describe your experience so far with the UFC?
RAFAEL: The UFC is very organized which is great for the fighters and they have treated me very well.

PRO MMA: Prior to coming into the UFC you were on a nine fight win-streak with a record of 11-2. However, things have not gone your way for the last two fights. What do you think has been the problem and are you discouraged at all?
RAFAEL: With each fight there is a new experience and until now I have not won in the Octagon but I will not stop until I do. No, I am not discouraged, I have learned a lot in these last two fights. Everything happens when God wants it to. My time has yet to come.

PRO MMA: Some people talk about the first time they fight inside the UFC Octagon they get the “first time jitters” and they get very nervous to the point it can affect their fight. Did you experience anything like that the first time in the UFC Octagon?
RAFAEL: No, all of my nervousness I transform into will to win, strength to succeed. It does not give me problems.

PRO MMA: Rafael, have you made any changes to your training since your last two fights? Have you had to make any adjustments so you can get back on the winning track?
RAFAEL: For sure, after each fight there are changes. Each time we look to improve weaknesses and improve my game.

PRO MMA: Have you heard any word when or who you may fight next?
RAFAEL: No.

PRO MMA: Is there any one in the UFC lightweight division you would like to fight, that you think would make a great exciting fight for the fans?
RAFAEL: No, I never choose my adversaries. Anyone they put in front of me will be a good fight.

PRO MMA: Who are your favorite fighters to watch and why?
RAFAEL: I like to watch GSP and Anderson Silva. They are fighters who “usually” put on a good show.

PRO MMA: Do you know Anderson Silva personally? Maybe you have heard some of the criticism the UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva, has received for his last two fights. What is your opinion of Anderson Silva’s most recent performances? Did you see his fight with Thales Leites and do you think he was “playing” with Thales and could have finished him off? What do you think was going on there?
RAFAEL: Yes I know him personally but I am not a friend of his. The impression I got was what most people thought, that he could have ended the fight whenever he wanted. But I think that he at the same time was afraid to put everything he had gained on the line and lose trying to finish too quickly.

PRO MMA: Rafael thank you for taking the time to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). We wish you the very best in all that you do. You are an exciting fighter and we look forward to seeing you back inside the Octagon. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans or would you like to thank anyone?
RAFAEL: Thank you for the opportunity. For my fans I would like to say that now the victory has not come in the UFC but I am training for it and always going for the finish while doing my best to offer a good show to those watching. Thank you all for your support.

Stay tuned for more PRO MMA (promma.info) Brazilian Spotlights coming soon.

By:  Jack Bratcher

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