Rafael Dos Anjos has reached a stage that is reserved for a select few grapplers on the planet as he’s just been awarded with the 4th degree on his black belt. The promotion came courtesy of his coach and training partner, Philipe Furao, who has been the chief instructor at Gracie Barra Headquarters in Irvine, California for over three years now. Dos Anjos shared the news on his official Instagram and included a photo of him training as a purple belt which must be dated somewhere around 2003, the same year he won an IBJJF World Championship gold medal:
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Got promoted today 4th degree on my black belt by my Jiu Jitsu coach and brother @philipefurao @graciebarra_hq <><><> Fui promovido 4th grau na minha faixa preta hoje pelo meu grande amigo e professor @philipefurao muitos anos de amizade. Obrigado por tudo lek 👊🏼💥#Jesus #Jesusfirst
It wasn’t long after his World Championship win at purple belt that Rafael Dos Anjos would embark upon his MMA career, fighting twice in 2004 shortly before his 20th birthday. He was eventually awarded his black belt in 2005 and decided to enter the IBJJF European Open the following year, earning a bronze medal in a fantastic display. This would be the last time that Dos Anjos tried his hand at a major tournament as he had begun to focus on his MMA career, going 2-2 up until this point.
From that point on, Dos Anjos was a force to be reckoned with in MMA and he won 9 straight fights in Brazil and Japan in order to earn his first UFC contract in 2008. It would be another 7 years and 18 fights before he could eventually earn a UFC Lightweight title shot and there was no way that he was letting the chance to go down in history slip through his fingers. Dos Anjos defeated Anthony Pettis by Unanimous Decision to earn his place among the greatest MMA fighters of all time and would go on to defend his status as champion once before eventually losing to Eddie Alvarez.
Despite mixed results since moving up to the Welterweight division in 2017, he still managed to earn a shot at the Interim title there too. His next fight is already booked for UFC 254 where he will return to Lightweight to take on a tough challenger in the form of Islam Makhachev. Regardless of where his career goes from here and how it ends, Dos Anjos will undoubtedly go down as one of the best BJJ practitioners to make the jump to MMA.