Thursday, May 19, 2022

Islam Makhachev Won’t Look Back To RDA Fight After UFC 267

UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev doesn’t plan on revisiting his rivalry with Rafael dos Anjos if he emerges victorious against Dan Hooker at UFC 267.

In a similar fashion to his teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s matchup with Tony Ferguson, Makhachev’s feud with dos Anjos appears to be a cursed one that will never see the inside of the Octagon.

The Dagestani was originally set to face the former UFC Lightweight Champion at UFC 254 last October, a card headlined by Khabib’s final career appearance. After the Brazilian tested positive for COVID-19, the bout was postponed. The pairing was kept intact and was made the main event of a Fight Night event in November. Just six days before the headlining clash, Makhachev was forced to withdraw due to a staph infection.

After a victory for dos Anjos over Paul Felder, and two wins over Drew Dober and Thiago Moisés in 2021 for Makhachev, the top-10 lightweights were once again matched up against each other. Their previous failed attempts to meet in the cage, combined with the verbal jabs the pair took at each other on social media, made the anticipation for their UFC 267 fight high.

Perhaps proving that third time lucky is a myth, the booking collapsed yet again towards the end of last month. After undergoing surgery, dos Anjos pulled out of the event. In his place has stepped up Dan Hooker. Just days out from his UFC 266 victory over Nasrat Haqparast, “The Hangman” accepted the short-notice bout and will be looking to derail the Makhachev hype train in Abu Dhabi this Saturday.

Makhachev Closes The Door On Dos Anjos Rivalry

Makhachev will now be facing a higher ranked opponent on October 30. Along with many, the #5-ranked contender believes a victory over Hooker will secure his place opposite the champion in 2022. That’s despite fellow top five’s Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler preparing to collide next weekend at UFC 268.

Ahead of his third Octagon outing of the year, Makhachev appeared at UFC 267 media day on Wednesday. The 30-year-old was asked whether he could see himself eventually facing dos Anjos after this weekend’s event. In response, Makhachev suggested he’d gain nothing from facing the Brazilian if he gets past Hooker.

“After this fight, I don’t think that dos Anjos is good idea for me. I have to (be) looking forward for someone from top three or if they give me title fight I’m gonna be ready.”

Makhachev had similar sentiments for Tony Ferguson, who he revealed was offered the short-notice UFC 267 bout but didn’t answer the call. It’s clear that with a victory at the Etihad Arena on Saturday, the surging lightweight contender will have his eyes set on a championship opportunity, or at the very least a title eliminator.

Should the winner of UFC 268’s Chandler vs. Gaethje fight earn the right to face the champ next, perhaps a clash with #3-ranked Beneil Dariush will be the next step for Makhachev.

Who would you like to see Islam Makhachev face if he defeats Dan Hooker this weekend?

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