I first stepped into the blue basement of the legendary Renzo Gracie Academy in early 2005 when I lived in…
The Greatest Gift
Exactly a year ago, I received one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received in my entire life. I almost never cry, but I cried badly that day. I was in the middle of hitting pads at EVOLVE that afternoon at the Fighters Program when my bro Rafael Dos Anjos suddenly stopped practice to give a long speech to everyone about his life and his career. I was completely caught off guard and surprised by everything. Rafa gave an emotional speech of gratitude for everything that he and I had been through together since 2009. And as a token of our journey together, Rafa presented me with his UFC belt . (In the world of martial arts, the most prestigious and coveted world championship titles are ONE Championship, UFC, and Bellator). Immediately, I got choked up, tears welled up, and I started to cry. For me, the belt itself means nothing because I did not fight in the cage myself to win it. However, for Rafa, the belt represents his life story, his dreams, his sacrifices, his tears, his triumph over poverty and adversity, his indomitable warrior spirit, his heart of gold, his everything. I never expected in a million years to receive such a precious gift of deep sentimental value. It is literally one of the best gifts I have ever received from anyone. I will always cherish this belt as a symbol of our lifelong friendship, Rafa.
The brotherhood of martial arts can never truly be understood unless you are also a true martial artist. A warrior’s bond is for life. Martial arts is not about fighting or violence. It is about unleashing human potential by instilling the precious values of humility, integrity, courage, loyalty, hard work, discipline, honor, respect, and so much more. Thank you Rafa for giving me a beautiful memory. I am truly blessed to have you in my life as my brother in arms. Let’s go conquer more dreams together!