On Oct. 26, 1984, Rafael dos Anjos was born in one of the poorest parts of South America. It wasn’t easy for dos Anjos and his family, who had to work for every ounce of food they ate. It wasn’t easy and at times, it seemed like it wasn’t worth it.

But dos Anjos continued to push through the difficult times in life despite being born into poverty. He had very few choices to make as he came from an extremely poor family. However, he chose to make the most of what little he had.

“I am from Niteroi in South America,” dos Anjos told The MMA Corner. “It’s around 30 minutes from Rio de Janeiro. I was born on Gueto, and I was born into an extremely poor family.  I really didn’t have too many options in my life.”

Dos Anjos (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“Even though I grew up not having many opportunities in life, I was always very interested in fights and the sport of fighting in general. I watched a lot of videos of Rickson Gracie and his fights in Japan. I love also loved to watch Royce Gracie at the very first UFC event,” said dos Anjos. “I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when I was just 10 years old.”

Fortunately for dos Anjos, he has been able to overcome his childhood poverty and become a veteran of MMA’s top organization, the UFC. Dos Anjos has been able to propel himself to five Octagon victories over the course of his young career, capturing wins against notable opponents in Terry Etim, Rob Emerson and George Sotiropoulos.

It’s this success that has allowed dos Anjos to remain thankful. Because as we know, the chance to fight in the limelight comes few and far between.  Like many, dos Anjos isn’t missing the opportunity to take in each and every moment while reflecting on his accomplishments thus far.

“I will never be able to fully describe what it means to have the opportunity to fight for these guys. I love to fight in the UFC. I love my work and I love my life. I am very happy to fight for the largest organization in the world,” said dos Anjos.  “Looking back on my career, I would have to say the most memorable experience so far was when I won the honor of ‘Submission of the Night’ over Terry Etim at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

Dos Anjos (R) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

As dos Anjos prepares for his upcoming meeting with Anthony Njokuani at UFC on Fuel TV 4, he can be found working alongside former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Machida has helped not only increase the talent and skill set of dos Anjos, but has also inspired the 27-year-old Brazilian native.

“If anyone has ever had the opportunity to train with Lyoto Machida, they will know exactly what I am talking about. It’s been my pleasure having the chance to train with a fighter much like Machida. Not only that, but he’s an extremely nice guy as well,” said dos Anjos. “Machida has a different style to himself, but remains one of the toughest match-ups in the UFC today.”

While the majority of martial artists don’t necessarily take the Chael Sonnen approach to each fight, dos Anjos has left us with one promise, and one promise only. Through the help of Machida and his team at Evolve MMA, dos Anjos feels he’ll put on the best performance of his career on July 11.

“I can tell you this, this fight is not going to a decision.”

Top Photo: Rafael Dos Anjos (L) (James Law/Heavy MMA)