As reported by ESPN, Islam Makhachev vs. Rafael dos Anjos will finally face off on October 30 at UFC 267. The bout was originally set to take place at UFC 254, but the date was pushed back after dos Anjos contracted the coronavirus. It was rescheduled for November of 2020, but it was then Makhachev who was forced to pull out of the fight. Fingers crossed, the third time will be the charm for these two top-10 lightweights to meet in the Octagon.
Islam Makhachev has been lobbying hard for a bout against dos Anjos before and after thwarting Thiago Moisés at UFC Vegas 31, and his efforts have finally culminated in a third booking of this high-flight bout. Makhachev is 20-1 and is currently enjoying a stout eight-fight win streak.
As for dos Anjos, the former lightweight champion recently made his return to the division last November with a unanimous decision victory over Paul Felder. Makhachev is currently ranked #5 in the division, with dos Anjos at #7.
dos Anjos recently posted on social media that this bout would, in fact, happen on this date of October 30. He also claimed that should he beat Makhachev, Khabib would come out of retirement to fight him. Additionally, he claimed that the fight would be for five rounds. That will not be the case, and the fight will be scheduled for three rounds, despite dos Anjos’s alleged best efforts.
“Islam doesn’t want to fight five rounds,” dos Anjos told ESPN. “That was my request, but it didn’t work out. So, fine. Let’s do three then. He’s been talking a lot of crap — let’s see who is who now. I’m ready to go. This is a title eliminator [in] my eyes.”
Makhachev’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, addressed the matter as well when ESPN reached out to him for comment.
“The UFC offered a three-round fight and Islam said yes,” Abdelaziz said. “We don’t care about the number of rounds — it’s no problem. The UFC asked for this, and this is what the UFC got. I’m looking at this as a No. 1 contender’s match. The winner should fight for the title.”
Though both dos Anjos and Makhachev’s management view this bout as a title eliminator, it cannot be ignored that within the past few days, Justin Gaethje (#2) and Michael Chandler (#4) was also booked; so based on the rankings, that fight would be more likely to fit the “title eliminator” bill.
However, unlike Chandler and Gaethje, neither Makhachev nor dos Anjos have had a recent title shot (in Makhachev’s case, never receiving one), so that unique identifier might just tip the scales in the favor of this fight in determining who is next line for a title shot.
The next lightweight title fight is expected to be between champion Charles Oliveira and #1 contender Dustin Poirier.
With the addition of this bout, the current lineup for UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi is as follows:
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout: Jan Blachowicz(c) vs. Glover Teixeira
UFC Bantamweight Championship Bout: Aljamain Sterling(c) vs. Petr Yan
Islam Makhachev vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Li Jingliang
Shamil Gamzatov vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Tai Tuivasa vs. Walt Harris
Do you think this fight between Islam Makhachev & Rafael dos Anjos should be viewed as a title eliminator?