Dos Anjos Coach: Nurmagomedov Is ‘Russian Version of Chael Sonnen’

By: Gleidson Venga
Feb 17, 2014
Rafael Cordeiro (right) is readying students for some major fights. | Dave Mandel/

Last Saturday, Rafael Cordeiro watched from the corner as pupil Lyoto Machida outpointed Gegard Mousasi in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36. However, the leader of Kings MMA will scarcely have time to celebrate, because he’s preparing two other students -- Fabricio Werdum and Rafael dos Anjos -- to battle at UFC on Fox 11.

The April 19 card in Orlando, Fla., will see heavyweight headliner Werdum square off against Travis Browne, while lightweight dos Anjos will face Khabib Nurmagomedov on the main card. The latter bout was on Cordeiro’s mind this week, particularly because of Nurmagomedov’s attitude toward Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“It’s going to be a very good fight, a fight that Rafael wants even more due to the stuff that the Russian’s been saying,” Cordiero told “Rafael is a super respectful guy; he doesn’t speak ill about anyone. [Nurmagomedov] is a Russian version of Chael Sonnen because he doesn’t respect jiu-jitsu and has no respect for those who come from jiu-jitsu. But he’ll face a tough guy. Rafael is a tough fight for anyone in the division, and we’ll do everything to have Rafa kick his ass. Rafa is training hard, and this struggle is no longer just his fight, but the fight of the whole group.”

Meanwhile, Cordeiro and Werdum will head to the Netherlands on March 14 to spend 12 days training at renowned kickboxing school Mike’s Gym.

“Werdum is going to do a circuit with some heavy guys, with some of the best K-1 fighters in Holland,” said Cordiero. “I want to get Werdum out of his comfort zone and put him in training with good guys. I think this is the first step for him to win the championship. He’ll face a muay Thai guy, so let’s take him to the Netherlands. After he beats Travis, we’ll get the best wrestlers for him to face Cain Velasquez.”

Cordeiro also expressed his contentment with Machida’s performance in Jaragua do Sul.

“I’m very happy. He showed a technical quality, precise, with much better defense,” Cordeiro explained. “He fought a tough guy. I don’t know if other fighters could bear those sequences of attack that [Machida] landed at various times, the kicks and knees to the head. I’m very happy to see the evolution of Lyoto and to participate in his camps... He graced us once again by showing the whole package, not only striking, hitting, but also listening to his corner.”

A muay Thai practitioner, Cordeiro talked about embedding his style into the karate-based attack of Machida.

“It’s a new experience for me, but after so much practice, I’m getting the hang of Lyoto and not wanting to change, in any way, his style. Within his game, we’re getting him to be increasingly aggressive. All his movements from karate, we’re adapting them with the right time to attack with muay Thai moves, but without losing his characteristics. At no time will we change that game. That was what made him a champion... We’re trying to assign more weapons for this game. He’s no longer that predictable guy who just kept coming out, coming out, coming out. The Lyoto of today is a man who walks forward and, when he attacks, attacks to win the fight.”

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