Earlier this month, surging UFC welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio called for a fight with recent interim welterweight title challenger Rafael dos Anjos. It was his hope, he said, that he could battle dos Anjos in the main event of the UFC’s upcoming debut in his native Argentina.
Dos Anjos, however, wasn’t interested in flying down to Argentina to fight Ponzinibbio on his home turf, which resulted in a heated social media skirmish between the two. Ultimately, Ponzinibbio even accused dos Anjos of ducking him.
The problem for dos Anjos however, is not Ponzinibbio. As he said on Twitter, he’d gladly fight Ponzinibbio in his gym. The problem, instead, is Argentina. He’d have the same problem fighting anywhere but the United States, where he’s now based, as his wife is about to give birth to their third child via C-section. He’s just not keen on abandoning his family at this stressful juncture.
“I don’t care who I fight, but I just don’t want to leave my family,” dos Anjos today told MMAjunkie this week. “I think my family is first. I can’t leave a young kid with my wife alone here.
“She’s going to get a C-section, so she’s going to need help. I’m the man. I need to be here supporting my wife and my family. That’s my job, and I’m not going to leave my family to fight in another country and fight far away from home.”
Rafael Dos Anjos then recounted the conversation with UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby in which the fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio was first offered.
“When Sean Shelby called me to offer that fight, my first question was, ‘Where?’ I didn’t even ask him who I’m going to be fighting,” dos Anjos said. “He goes, ‘Argentina.’ I said, ‘Sean, last year I fought two times in Canada, I fought in Singapore, and one time here in the US. I want to stay around, especially on that date – not because it’s Santiago Ponzinibbio.
“[Ponzinibbio is] making a big drama saying that I’m afraid to fight him in Argentina. No, I’m not afraid. I told him to come to my gym – we’ll fight here. We’ll fight in Las Vegas.
“I’m not afraid of that guy. I just don’t want to take an 18-hour flight. Even in Brazil – I don’t want to fight in Brazil. It’s too far. I don’t want to take a 15- or 16-hour flight to leave my family for that long. I want to fight in the US. That’s what I said.”
Fair play to Rafael dos Anjos.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/14/2018.