Prior to last weekend’s UFC 272 pay-per-view, it appeared the long-discussed, and long-failed, matchup between dos Anjos and Makhachev would finally come to fruition. After the withdrawal of Rafael Fiziev, the Dagestani held up his hand and said he was willing to jump in.
But no sooner had fans begun to excited about a quick turnaround for Makhachev, who defeated Bobby Green in the UFC Vegas 49 main event late last month, it was announced the short-notice spot in Las Vegas had been filled by dos Anjos’ fellow Brazilian Renato Moicano.
RDA subsequently delivered a brutal beating on Moicano, who was comfortably beaten on the scorecards after somewhat controversially being allowed to fight the full 25 minutes.
One man in attendance on March 5 was Makhachev, who, according to UFC President Dana White, turned down the chance to face dos Anjos on five days’ notice.
Having witnessed the former lightweight champion’s performance close up, the #3-ranked contender has concluded the Brazilian simply isn’t on his level. With that in mind, Makhachev says he has no desire to fight him.
“But anyway, I (sat) in front row, watch this fight, dos Anjos not my level fighter,” Makhachev told ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto. “If I beat him, people still talking like, ‘This is old man. He’s not from top five.’ And that’s it.”
Makhachev Will Likely Need To Get Past Dariush Next
Having seemingly rejected the fight with dos Anjos, who Makhachev had been booked to face multiple times in the past, it appears the 30-year-old already has his next opponent lined up, and it’s certainly not who the Dagestani’s camp would have hoped for.
Despite both Makhachev and his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov appearing confident of a title shot later this year, Dana White recently revealed the promotion would be looking to re-book him against Beneil Dariush, whom Makhachev was originally slated to face on February 26.
The theories on the apparent change of heart by the UFC vary. While some believe it simply makes sense as a title eliminator, others have suggested Makhachev’s decision to turn down the UFC 272 co-main slot has played a part, although the AKA product refute’s White’s claim.
Some, including color commentator Joe Rogan, believe the promotion is looking to re-arrange Makhachev vs. Dariush in order to pave the way for an immediate title shot for Conor McGregor upon his return to the Octagon.
Either way, Makhachev’s response to the revelation was one of intent: “I’ll smash this whole division.”
Would you still like to see Islam Makhachev share the Octagon with Rafael dos Anjos?