After claiming the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight title at UFC 185 with a dominating victory over Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos proved his worth as division king with an even more impressive win over Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17 last weekend.
But, the well-traveled Brazilian apparently still can't call himself the true champion until he defeats Khabib Nurmagomedov. That's according to "The Eagle" at least, who told Globo that the only way "RDA" gets the distinction of true division ruler is if he can get topple the man who dominated him several years ago.
His words (via Bloody Elbow):
"In January, I'll get back to heavier workouts, back to training wrestling and striking. I want to be ready in March and perhaps try a title fight in Brazil against a Brazilian champion [Rafael dos Anjos]. Because he wants people to say he's the champion, but actually I'm the one who dominated him. He must defeat me so people say that he is the true champion. But, first, I need to be fit."
It doesn't work that way, Khabib, but it's definitely a solid angle when pining for a world title fight.
Nurmagomedov outclassed Dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 11 back in 2014 in a bout that was relegated to the "Prelims" undercard portion of the event. The bout marked Nurmagomedov's last appearance inside the Octagon before a string of injuries forced the undefeated contender (22-0) to sit on the sidelines for the past 18 months.
As for "RDA," his fortunes changed for the better, going on to win five straight during that same span on his way to claiming his throne atop of the 155-pound ladder.
Now that "The Eagle" is gearing up for a return to the cage, he feels a rematch against dos Anjos is in order. But, with a big money fight against Conor McGregor possibly on the horizon, Nurmagomedov may have to work his way up for the right to vie for the strap.