His is a story about overcoming the odds, about rising up no matter how many times you fall. Born and raised in the favelas of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Rafael Dos Anjos emerged from his humble origins to become the first Brazilian Lightweight Champion in UFC history. But his path to success was not without pain and sacrifice.
Although he started winning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments when he was just 13 years old, surrounded by poverty and desperation, Rafael started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and was headed towards self-destruction. Luckily, his mother sent him to Belo Horizonte where he began training under Aldo “Caveirinha” Januário. He became a BJJ World Champion at 18, but began accepting MMA fights to make ends meet. Training with Roberto “Gordo” Correa at 21 led to an impressive nine fight win streak, and a UFC signing.
He was doing well until he broke his jaw; the injury was so severe that he contemplated retirement. But motivated by his family, he rededicated himself to the sport and moved to Singapore to redefine his striking skills at Evolve MMA. With a renewed belief in himself, RDA swept the Lightweight division by storm and became the World Champion in 2015. However, unable to deal with the grueling weight cuts, Rafael moved up to Welterweight in 2017 and is now poised to become the next UFC Welterweight Champion.