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    UFC lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos, on respecting opponents and fighting right

    The world’s largest celebration of combat sports, UFC International Fight Week, unfolds this weekend at Las Vegas. The main event to kick-off the festivities — in the build-up to UFC 200 on July 9 — is a bout for the world lightweight title, between current champion, Rafael Dos Anjos, and top contender, Eddie Alvarez.
    The Rio de Janeiro-based fighter is aware that his opponent (a former Bellator MMA lightweight titlist), is no pushover. “I’m not the kind of guy who’d talk bad about my opponent. I always respect whoever steps up in the Octagon, to face me. I’ll let my fists do the talking,” begins Dos Anjos,70.3 kg, who took only 66 seconds to knock out his last opponent, Donald Cerrone, in December.

    Lethal moves
    Widely considered to be the most dangerous man in the lightweight division, Dos Anjos, who specialises in pressure fighting, has an impressive record of 25-7-0 (win-loss-draw). “I’ve been training Brazilian jiu-jitsu for over 20 years now. I have a solid stand-up and wrestling game and I just feel that I’m in my prime now,” shares the 31-year-old veteran, adding that he isn’t fazed by Alvarez’s ‘fancy’ footwork or boxing prowess.
    But, there’s a good reason why betting odds are stacked in the Brazilian’s favour. Since 2014, his channeled aggression and signature move of forcing opponents to the fence and then melding a series of left kicks and right hooks, have helped him secure five back-to-back wins. His ultimate MMA goal? “I want to beat all the contenders for the next two years and then move up the division,” claims Dos Anjos, signing off.
    July 8, 7.30 am on Sony ESPN

    — Anoop Menon

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