Friday, May 27, 2022

Makhachev Refutes ‘Fake News’ Put Forth By White & McGregor

Making the most of his opportunity to address some recent comments, UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev has refuted claims made by both Dana White and Conor McGregor.

Despite extending his win streak to 10 with a dominant performance over Bobby Green just two weeks ago, much of the current discussion about Makhachev surrounds his apparent decision to turn down a short-notice fight against longtime rival Rafael dos Anjos.

After the withdrawal of Rafael Fiziev early in UFC 272 fight week, the former UFC lightweight champion was after a new opponent. While Makhachev appeared willing to step in on social media, RDA’s compatriot Renato Moicano was later revealed to be the chosen one.

Shortly after, White claimed he’d gone to sleep assuming a deal had been agreed for the Dagestani to complete quick turnaround, only for him to discover the #3-ranked 155lber had turned it down.

During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Makhachev had the chance to provide his side of the story.

Giving a different take, the 30-year-old claimed he’d called the UFC to try and make the fight happen, not the other way around. However, he cited an important condition not being met as the reason the fight fell through.

“Dana said I turned down this fight, but Monday morning, when I wake up, I just saw some news, like ‘Fiziev have COVID. The fight is canceled.’ And I’ve been in California on vacation,” said Makhachev. “And I wake up and call my manager. ‘Hey, Ali [Abdelaziz], I saw some news. Please call UFC and say I’m ready (to) take this fight.’

“And I ask about some condition, very small condition, nothing (too big). And (neither UFC nor Ali called me). I (woke) up and I called Ali, and I tell him, ‘Hey, come talk with the UFC, please. I want this fight,” Makhachev continued. “But the UFC (didn’t) do it. That’s why it (didn’t) happen, and that’s it. People think UFC call me and tried to make this fight, but I call UFC, and I ask about this fight.”

While Makhachev didn’t delve further into details about the mentioned stipulation, his initial callout on social media included a request for it to be a welterweight bout. Perhaps the UFC or dos Anjos’ desire for a 160-pound catchweight, as the eventual UFC 272 co-main was fought at, led to negotiations collapsing.

Makhachev: McGregor Will Never Agree To Fight Me

Conor McGregor Islam Makhachev
Conor McGregor, Islam Makhachev

Elsewhere on his trail of calling out ‘fake news,’ Makhachev took aim at familiar foe McGregor. Given his friend and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov’s history with the Irishman, it’s not surprising to see the Dagestani going back and forth with McGregor as his rise to the top of the lightweight division continues.

First addressing the idea of the former two-division champion returning from injury and a two-fight skid straight into a title fight, Makhachev suggested it’ll be hard for McGregor to make 155 pounds and be competitive given he’s “drunk all day.”

“I think this is fake. For the fans, they make (something) interesting, but I think this fake. It’s gonna be hard for him to make 155 because he drunk all day, and a lot of people gonna smash him in this division,” asserted Makhachev. “He just gonna fight vs. Nate Diaz or some old people (to) make some money and that’s it. He’s never gonna be champion. He’s never gonna be (at championship level).”

Moving on to his personal issues with McGregor, Makhachev suggested the former lightweight and featherweight titleholder was bluffing when he expressed a desire to fight the top-five contender.

Having seen a decline in form since his defeat to Khabib in 2018, Makhachev doesn’t believe he’d have an issue dispatching McGregor. For that reason, he says McGregor would “never” accept the fight.

“He just play game. He never gonna take this fight. He just play a little bit game. Because he knows (it’s) gonna be long night for him,” claimed Makhachev. “What Khabib did with him, I’m gonna—because he’s not same now. When he fight with Khabib, (he was) in good shape, not drunk too much. But now, he have to retire. This guy have money, everything. But if he wanna come back, let’s do it. I’ll be happy to smash him.”

Having failed to book a rematch between Khabib and McGregor, whose first bout ended with a memorable brawl, perhaps the UFC and White will look for what may be the next best thing: ‘The Next Khabib’ Makhachev vs. the “Notorious” megastar.

How do you think a fight between Islam Makhachev and Conor McGregor would play out?

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