UFC 264 Alternate Rafael dos Anjos: ‘I Would Have Smashed McGregor’

By: Marcelo Alonso
Jul 16, 2021

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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight king Rafael dos Anjos is confident that he would have crushed Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 264.

Booked as a reserve fighter for the main event of UFC 264, dos Anjos (30-13) was not able to step in the Octagon last Saturday because both Dustin Poirier and McGregor were cleared to compete. The longtime MMA veteran dos Anjos spoke to Sherdog on Thursday, while on a camping trip with his family, about the headliner of UFC 264 that he watched intently. He had strong thoughts on how he would have performed had he been tapped as the alternate.

“I saw McGregor [at the] weigh-ins and he looked sloppy, skinny like a little boy,” dos Anjos remarked. “I was sure Dustin would win again. But Conor was lucky it was not me. My game is much worse for him than Dustin’s. I have no doubt I would [have] smashed him.”

When asked about the danger of facing Poirier or McGregor out of his best shape, the man known as “RDA” guaranteed that it would not have been a problem.

“I don’t want to look arrogant,” he said, “but I don’t need to be 100 percent to face Poirier or McGregor.”

Dos Anjos hit the scales at 156 pounds as an alternate, taking to the stand early that morning to prove a point. Having returned from surgery following his win over Paul Felder in November 2020, merely reaching the lightweight limit was a win in his books.

“I offered myself to be [a] reserve fighter because it was a great opportunity for me,” the Brazilian explained. “I had surgery four months ago. Being in shape and hitting the limit of my division four months later was a great win.”

Dos Anjos continued, “Right after a serious surgery like I did, where I was unable to walk for two weeks, it is natural that you gain weight. Having a goal to reach is the most important thing for a fighter. When UFC accepted my offer, I set a goal that on July 10, I [would] reach 155 pounds. That was very important to me to show how hungry I was to get the title.”

The fighter ranked ninth at welterweight and 10th at lightweight on the Sherdog official rankings then looked to the future about potential matchups for him. To get in a full camp, dos Anjos plans on returning to lightweight in a few months, and he has a couple targets in mind.

“I want to return in September,” dos Anjos stated. “[Michael] Chandler just wants to fight in winter, around December; [Justin] Gaethje just wants to fight for the belt; a rematch with [Tony] Ferguson would be interesting. And there are a couple of other possibilities we are studying. I hope soon we have that deal set up.”

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