It was a milestone week for Rafael dos Anjos in his recovery process from the broken foot that forced him to pull out of a lightweight title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC UFC 196.
“[It was] my first week without the boot. My doctor cleared me to walk barefoot,” dos Anjos told “Inside MMA” on Friday night. “I started working a little bit, hit some bags, doing some techniques.”
With that progress comes a target date for the lightweight champion’s Octagon return.
“I will be ready by July. I want to fight in July. I’m here. Whatever UFC decides, I’ll be ready,” dos Anjos said. “In three more weeks I’ll be ready to jump, to kick. In July, I’m ready.”
If all goes as planned, that progression could lead to a spot on the UFC 200 card, an event that already features a pair of title fights as well as a welterweight headliner between Nate Diaz and McGregor. Dos Anjos was angling to fight either Diaz or welterweight champion Robbie Lawler on July 9 in Las Vegas, but he was denied by the promotion on both counts.
The Kings MMA standout now believes the UFC has something else in mind for him.
“Maybe they have different plans for me. I need to defend my title against Eddie Alvarez. I think he is maybe the No. 1 contender,” dos Anjos said. “He is coming off a victory over Anthony Pettis, a former champion. But I told them, I fight anybody, any weight.”
Dos Anjos made his first 155-pound title defense at UFC on Fox 17, where he stopped Donald Cerrone via technical knockout in 66 seconds this past December. He captured the belt with a dominant five-round verdict over Pettis at UFC 185. The 31-year-old Brazilian has won 10 of his last 11 fights in the Octagon.
[The injury] was hard on me. I just want to fight,” he said. “I kept in shape. Even with the injury I was able to keep my diet. I want to fight anybody.”