Rafael dos Anjos is all set to return to the United States for the final stage of his UFC Fight Night 90 camp (more on that fight here), but the reigning lightweight champion decided to leave something important behind at Evolve MMA in Singapore.
His championship belt.
Dos Anjos has been training at Evolve MMA for the last few weeks and he presented his lightweight strap as a parting gift to the camp's owner, Chatri Sityodtong, before flying back to his adopted home in California. The Brazilian has been a regular visitor to Singapore since 2009 and handed over the title as a gesture of appreciation.
Dos Anjos currently has two UFC belts in his possession. The other is in his family home and he will receive a third if he can successfully defend his title at the MGM Grand on July 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In an emotional speech, the Brazilian explained the decision to hand over one of his most precious possessions.
"From the beginning, there were only two people in my life who told me that I would become a world champion, my wife and Chatri. Sometimes, you need people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself. It is what helped me to keep my dream alive and to keep moving forward during the worst times like when my jaw broke in my fight with Clay Guida and I thought about retiring."
Being a multi millionaire entrepreneur makes Chatri a difficult person to purchase presents for so Dos Anjos wanted to give his mentor something which money literally cannot but,
"Chatri has been my brother, my mentor, my teacher, my coach, my friend. During the worst moments of my life, Chatri has been there for me always. I thought a long time about what to give him to express my gratitude to him. What do you give someone who already has everything though? Gratitude. My UFC belt represents everything in my life. So I give it to Chatri."
Dos Anjos joined Evolve MMA soon after his defeat to Tyson Griffin when he was 0-2 in the UFC and potentially just one loss away from being cut. He also trains at Kings MMA in California but says that Chatri has been a major factor behind his success.
"I joined the Evolve Fight Team in 2009 and it has been one of the biggest reasons for my success. It is one of the main reasons why I took home the title. Chatri has always been one of the most important people in my corner. For every opponent since 2009, we always talk and he gives me the game plan and what I need to do."
Dos Anjos has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt for almost a decade but his striking has improved noticeably over the course of his UFC career and he believes that is due to the training time he has spent in Singapore.
"At Evolve I learned real Muay Thai and I fell in love with it. Before Evolve I did not know even how to kick properly or how to strike. I always come back here to learn new things from all of the world champions and everyone here."
In return, Dos Anjos decided to give the man who founded Evolve MMA and has mentored him for the last seven years of his professional career a unique gift.