Ahead of the pair's long-awaited title fight at UFC on FOX 17, Cerrone told reporters that he believed dos Anjos would be a different fighter on Dec. 19 than in the past, pointing to the UFC's new partnership with USADA as the reason. While not directly accusing dos Anjos of PED abuse, the implications of the statements were clear enough, and dos Anjos did not appreciate being forced to defend his spotless record of drug testing.
"If you look at my record, I have a clean record," dos Anjos told MMA Fighting. "I've been tested a lot of times for this fight. I didn't know it, but [someone] just told me that he (Cerrone) was drug tested once. I was tested four times, and you'll see. December 19th, he's going to get what he deserves, and I'm going to see what he's going to say after."
A once-middling lightweight, the 31-year-old dos Anjos has undergone a career evolution since 2012, ripping through nine wins over his last 10 fights, highlighted by a decision over Cerrone in 2013 and a thrashing of Anthony Pettis this past May, the latter of which captured dos Anjos the UFC lightweight belt. He has been on the shelf since, recovering from a torn MCL he suffered prior to the Pettis fight, but that hasn't stopped Cerrone from throwing a few mind games the Brazilian's way.
Aside from the PED debate, Cerrone also briefly fooled dos Anjos into believing he received an exemption to use an IV for post-weigh-in rehydration due to a past quadricycle accident that effectively left him with half of a stomach.
After an irritated dos Anjos responded to the situation publicly, Cerrone admitted that the whole thing was a joke. Neither that nor the thinly veiled PED accusations were funny to dos Anjos, though.
"You've never seen Donald Cerrone do this with nobody else," dos Anjos said. "Have you? He doesn't. I think he was just a guy who trained and did his job, but now he's trying to do these things, you know? I think he's trying to mess up my head, but these are stupid child games that don't work with me. He's just showing me he's not confident.
"Like he said, he doesn't give a s**t about the belt. Things like that. Like, ‘okay, if I win, I don't give a s**t, but I won. If I lost, it's okay, I don't give a s**t.' That's why he wants to make me look like a favorite, he wants to make accusations, but man, I do my work. I do things right. No shortcuts. I train hard, and I'm going to show this on December 19th. I'm going to show the difference between the champ and second place. I'm going to show you, show everybody the difference between the guy who trains hard, who dedicated himself for this [sport], and the guy who does this thing for fun to make money and try to do things not right."
Dos Anjos said he ultimately isn't sure why Cerrone is prodding him so publicly, but he has his theories, and he knows it won't matter once the cage door swings closed in Orlando.
"I think just because he knows he's going to lose the fight," dos Anjos said. "He knows I have way more skills. I have more will than him. He knows when we fought the first time, the first round I broke his spirit. You could see it in his face, and I'm looking forward to doing it again, man, but even worse now. Even worse, because man, he's making accusations, he's trying to be a funny guy. But December 19th, when they lock us in the cage, it's just going to be one guy (against the other), and when the fight starts, he's going to notice that he's not on a good day.
"I'm just looking forward to going there, December 19th, keeping my belt, shutting this guy's mouth, and showing the world why I am the champion."