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On last fight of UFC deal, Rafael dos Anjos welcomes fight against three possible opponents

Rafael dos Anjos (right) won the lightweight belt with a win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 185.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos has one bout left on his current contract with the company, and sees a rematch with the man who he took the belt from as one of the options for his next — and maybe final — step in the octagon.

Dos Anjos continues to train in his house in San Diego, Calif., alongside coach Jason Parillo and a few training partners, including fellow UFC fighter Beneil Dariush, during the current health crisis caused by COVID-19. The Brazilian is still waiting for a call to get his next fight booked and possibly discuss a new deal with the UFC, and is open to competing as soon as June.

“I want to fight. I fought in January, so June or July would be good dates,” dos Anjos told MMA Fighting. “I’m going for the last fight in my contract with the UFC, so we have to see if the UFC wants to re-sign me. It’s a bunch of things.”

The Niteroi native started his UFC career more than a decade ago, eventually capturing the 155-pound gold in 2015. A welterweight since 2017, dos Anjos says he’s willing to sign a new contract before entering the octagon again.

“I’m in the UFC for many years, since 2008, and the UFC is a very solid company,” he said. “I have a great relationship with Dana White, I have almost 30 fights in the organization, and I would like to re-sign with the UFC. That’s what I want, but it’s not only up to me, it’s up to them as well, if they want to re-sign me.”

Dos Anjos fought four times in Las Vegas throughout his UFC career, and thinks it would be “cool” to be in one of UFC’s “Fight Island” shows. As for an ideal opponent, the Brazilian has a short list of suggestions: Anthony Pettis, Stephen Thompson, and even Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Pettis would be a rematch of their UFC 185 title bout, a five-round clash which dos Anjos dominated from start to finish. “Wonderboy” was an idea once offered by the company, according to dos Anjos, and Ponzinibbio is a rivalry that keeps burning on social media for years but never materialized.

“I thought about Pettis because he once said, after a victory, that he was interested in fighting me at 170,” dos Anjos said. “Since he fought (Donald) Cerrone at welterweight, I think this could be the fight.”

“Man, Ponzinibbio is crazy,” he continued, referring to Ponzinibbio’s claim that RDA recently turned down the fight. “(The UFC) hasn’t said anything. This guy hasn’t fought in a year and a half. F*ck, I fought (four) times since his last fight. I have no problem fighting him, but, brother, no one told me anything. He throws some crazy stuff online, it’s hard to understand. But I have no problem fighting Ponzinibbio.

“I’m in a situation that I can’t call anyone out. I’m coming off a loss and I know that’s in the past and I will bounce back, but what the UFC offers me, something that makes sense… I think Pettis would make sense for the history. The market is starting to move now. Stephen Thompson and I, there was some talk in the past, so I think that could be the fight. The division is very jammed, let’s see how it plays out.”

According to Ponzinibbio, the UFC allegedly informed him that the RDA fight would not happen because the Brazilian was heading back to the lightweight division.

Dos Anjos shoots down that claim.

For RDA to cut extra 15 pounds, he explains the UFC would have to give him plenty of time to prepare, the perfect opponent, and the biggest purse of his life. According to the Brazilian, a recent trip to Las Vegas’s UFC Performance Institute concluded he would have to be “a whole other human being” to hit 155 pounds again.

“I was doing some tests, but, man, I’m not going down to 155,” said dos Anjos, who currently weighs 187 pounds. “That was an idea, a possible… In order for me to go to 155, I would need at least four months’ notice before a fight, and it would have to be a fight that is really worth it financially. For the money I make today, a normal purse, the toll on my body isn’t worth it. But for a great money, one that changes your life completely, I would do that sacrifice on three or four months’ notice. But not now.”

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