If they handed out nice guy awards at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), there's a good chance Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos would win most of the time.
A respectful and humble competitor, the Brazilian took 17 fights to convince UFC matchmakers he deserved a title shot. He made good on that opportunity, dispatching Anthony Pettis over a five round beatdown which surprised many MMA observers who felt dos Anjos would be the underdog.
Despite winning the belt, dos Anjos has continued to carry himself in a respectful manner, even praising his upcoming opponent Donald Cerrone for his skills. Which is why it was somewhat baffling two weeks ago when Conor McGregor launched into an attack against both fighters at UFC's "Go Big" press conference.
The champion sat down with Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten on "Inside MMA" Friday night (Sept. 18, 2015) to talk about the bizarre exchange in which McGregor blasted the lightweight division as being "slow" and "stuck in the mud."
dos Anjos could only smile and shrug.
"This guy, he's good on the cameras you know," he said. "He's good for talking to people and he shows, you know, he feels comfortable when he do that. But, when we get locked in the cage it's just two guys, you know."
While McGregor clearly hasn't gotten under his skin the way the Irishman has with featherweight champion Jose Aldo, dos Anjos said that he and Aldo have proven themselves in UFC with dozens of fights over several years. And despite defeating Chad Mendes at UFC 189, dos Anjos said the "Notorious" one has a lot of work left to do.
"He's beat good guys but he didn't beat the top guys, he didn't beat Frankie Edgar, he didn't beat Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens. There's a bunch of guys that will beat him. Of course, if he comes to lightweight division I am the belt holder right now. I will make sure this belt will remain with me. Whenever he wants to step up and try to take this away from me I will make sure I'm going to keep with me."
Before that happens, however, not only does Dos Anjos have to defeat Cerrone at UFC on Fox 17, but McGregor will need to defeat Aldo at UFC 194. Both events happen in December.