After Islam Makhachev clocked his seventh consecutive one-sided victory, it seemed inevitable that the #10-ranked lightweight would finally get an opponent inside the top 10. That’s certainly what Makhachev and his team lobbied for after his latest victory. Instead, he was given Thiago Moisés, a 26-year-old unranked opponent. While Moisés is a rising prospect on a three-fight winning streak, there’s no denying that this is drastically different from what Makhachev had in mind and what most fans were expecting to be next for the Dagestani.
On Monday’s installment of DC & Helwani, Daniel Cormier pulled back the curtains and asserted that there is a reason why Makhachev is fighting Moisés and not someone ranked. And it’s the same reason Kamaru Usman’s road to the top was so prolonged: He is having a very hard time getting big fights. In fact, Cormier even named two specific fighters who he claims turned down a bout against Makhachev (via ESPN MMA).
“Nobody will fight him…Islam’s just gonna smash ‘em all,” Cormier said. “He’ll beat ‘em all. I know for a fact [the fight] was offered to [Paul] Felder. It was offered to RDA (Rafael dos Anjos). It was offered to a number of guys in that top 10, and these guys won’t fight him. I don’t know what more he can do but just to compete, make money, and keep working his way toward the championship. It’s very reminiscent of when Kamaru Usman was coming up.”
The two names mentioned are both noteworthy. In Rafael dos Anjos’s case, he was booked to fight Makhachev twice last year, but the fight fell apart both times. Dos Anjos would then go on to defeat Paul Felder instead. As for Felder, as of this writing, he and Makhachev are nodded at #10 in the rankings, so from a rankings perspective, there is literally no opponent that makes more sense for Makhachev.
Nonetheless, despite dos Anjos’s past willingness and Felder’s shared ranking, according to Daniel Cormier, neither man currently wants any part of a fight against Islam Makhachev.
What do you make of Daniel Cormier’s claim that both Rafael dos Anjos and Paul Felder turned down a fight against Islam Makhachev?