Former UFC lightweight champion and welterweight contender, Rafael dos Anjos has made it perfectly clear for the UFC – his next fight must be in the USA.
Speaking to MMAJunkie,”RDA”, 33, has stated he is tired of fighting overseas and wants to stay closer to home so he is on hand to support his wife, who will give birth to their third child next month.
“I don’t care who I fight, but I just don’t want to leave my family, I think my family is first. I can’t leave a young kid with my wife alone here. She’s going to get a C-section, so she’s going to need help. I’m the man. I need to be here supporting my wife and my family. That’s my job, and I’m not going to leave my family to fight in another country and fight far away from home.”
The former champion confirmed he was approached by UFC matchmakers to fight hard-hitter Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event slot at UFC Fight Night 140, which is scheduled for November 17th in Ponzinibbio’s home country of Argentina.
“When [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby called me to offer that fight, my first question was, ‘Where?’ I didn’t even ask him who I’m going to be fighting. He goes, ‘Argentina.’ I said, ‘Sean, last year I fought two times in Canada, I fought in Singapore, and one time here in the U.S. I want to stay around, especially on that date – not because it’s Santiago Ponzinibbio. [Ponzinibbio is] making a big drama saying that I’m afraid to fight him in Argentina. No, I’m not afraid. I told him to come to my gym – we’ll fight here. We’ll fight in Las Vegas.”
“I’m not afraid of that guy. I just don’t want to take an 18-hour flight. Even in Brazil – I don’t want to fight in Brazil. It’s too far. I don’t want to take a 15- or 16-hour flight to leave my family for that long. I want to fight in the U.S. That’s what I said.”
The fight may never have come to fruition anyway, as Ponzinibbio was forced to withdraw after an injury from a meeting with top contender, Kamaru Usman. Instead, Usman was promised to be waiting in the wings as a backup fighter in case Darren Till fails to make weight for his booked fight with champ Tyron Woodley next month at UFC 228.
Now, dos Anjos finds himself waiting for an alternate fight offer from the UFC. Recently cleared to fight after undergoing surgery on his left ear, he said he’d love another shot at Colby Covington, who beat him mere months ago to claim the interim welterweight belt.
“I will stay ready. I’m training. I’m trying to get better and get back in shape. I don’t care who, but I just don’t want to leave my family. I think my family is first. I can’t leave a young kid with my wife alone here.”