In the lead-up to his clash with Khabib Nurmagomedov, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos encountered a harrowing incident that nearly cost him his ear.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated UFC veteran, faced numerous challenges en route to his illustrious career. Among his formidable opponents stood Rafael dos Anjos, a former lightweight champion, in a pivotal bout that unfolded in 2014, just a year before dos Anjos claimed the title.
During the encounter, dos Anjos exhibited flashes of brilliance in the first round, showcasing his striking superiority against Nurmagomedov. However, the Brazilian struggled to contend with Nurmagomedov’s relentless grappling assaults. The Dagestani persisted in executing takedowns, steering the bout towards a grappling-centric confrontation. Ultimately, Nurmagomedov clinched victory via unanimous decision, securing his 22nd triumph.
Recently, dos Anjos shed light on the challenges he faced during his preparation for the showdown with Nurmagomedov. He revealed that a freak accident during training posed a significant setback. While engaged in training activities, dos Anjos inadvertently trapped his ear in the MMA training cage, resulting in a severe tear. Consequently, he opted to abstain from grappling sessions for the remainder of his preparation, prioritizing striking to avoid exacerbating his ear injury.
“In the lead-up to the Khabib fight, I encountered an unforeseen obstacle. My ear… I still vividly remember… It got entangled in the cage, nearly detaching entirely. I underwent a procedure, receiving 14 stitches at the rear of my ear. The experience left me shaken, prompting an immediate trip to the hospital for treatment,” dos Anjos recounted.
He continued, “This incident occurred precisely seven weeks before the bout. Consequently, I abstained from wrestling and grappling training, fearful of aggravating my injury.”
The former UFC lightweight champion also suffered a significant cut behind his ear during his bout against Covington.
Sources revealed that dos Anjos had to get his ear stitched five times since a sparring session with Michael Bisping in October 2017, before his win over Robbie Lawler. Additionally, dos Anjos had his ear stitched up two weeks before UFC 225.
The cut suffered during the fight with Covington was deep, prompting concerns that dos Anjos’ left ear could potentially fall off.
Due to the severity of the injury and concerns about future occurrences, dos Anjos decided to undergo plastic surgery to properly fix the issue and prevent it from happening again.
Rafael dos Anjos boasts a diverse skill set, excelling in both striking and grappling disciplines. A seasoned competitor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournaments, dos Anjos, like many grapplers, bears the hallmark of cauliflower ears—a condition resulting from repeated blunt trauma. Professional grapplers commonly experience this ailment due to friction between the ears and the mat surface.