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Rafael dos Anjos on first fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘He didn’t hurt me’

Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The last man to beat UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, Khabib Nurmagomedov, will earn a shot at the gold with a win over Donald Cerrone on May 23, but the Brazilian is aware of the changes he has to make to avenge that loss.

Welcomed at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanazinho gymnasium for UFC Fight Night 62 as a hero after his win over Anthony Pettis, dos Anjos spoke with media about a potential rematch with Nurmagomedov.

"He’s a tough guy, but I fought again 45 days after facing him," dos Anjos said. "I was calling my manager ten minutes after the fight and asking to fight again. ‘If someone gets hurt next week, I want to fight’. He didn’t hurt me. He just held me down and killed my game. It was basically a grappling match. He has a strong game close to the fence. Not chasing him maybe is a good strategy.

"No excuse, he was better that night," he continued. "I was under pressure, I had issues before that fight, but he was better. Next time, the fight will be different. I only lost one of my last 10 fights. I want to clear that up."

The new UFC champion partially tore his right knee’s MCL prior to his win over Pettis, and he expects to be back inside the Octagon around September. dos Anjos, who only fought once in Brazil since signing with the UFC in 2008, welcomes the idea of putting his title on the line in front of his countrymen.

"I would love to fight in Brazil, but the UFC makes the call. We have to see their schedule, see if it’s going to work," he said. "When my knee and foot are better, I will be available to fight. I believe I will be cleared to train hard in three months, and then I will need at least three months to get ready for a title fight."

Until then, the Brazilian will continue to enjoy life as UFC champion.

"It’s pretty cool. The belt is a dream and I carry it with me all the time. My wife jokes that she’s jealous about the belt," he said. "It’s a dream come true, but it’s only the beginning. I always trained hard in my life to win the title, and I will train twice as hard to stay at the top. I work hard, train hard, because the challenges will be bigger now. I will be ready for everything."

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