Rafael dos Anjos is returning to the division where he once held UFC gold when he takes on #12-ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev this fall.
Originally reported by BJPenn.com, Rafael dos Anjos is back at lightweight after breaking even in the welterweight division at 4-4. Awaiting him will be a competitor who is near perfect inside the Octagon, the highly touted, 18-1 Islam Makhachev. The bout is expected to take place at UFC 254, with Makhachev competing on the same card as AKA teammate and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Islam Makhachev may be able to extract more advice from Nurmagomedov than usual leading up to this bout, as the lightweight champion has experience competing against Dos Anjos. In 2014, Nurmagomedov defeated dos Anjos in a one-sided shutout decision. Given the similarities between Nurmagomedov and Makhachev, some, including Makhachev, could be expecting a similar result.
Islam Makhachev is currently riding a very impressive six-fight winning streak, including a Fight of the Night victory over Arman Tsarukyan last year. In his most recent outing, Makhachev defeated fellow grappler Davi Ramos via unanimous decision at UFC 242. With dos Anjos re-entering the lightweight division, he currently does not have a number next to his name, but should Makhachev defeat him, it should be enough to finally squeeze Makhachev into the top 10 in the division for the first time in his career.
RDA will be looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses, most recently to Michael Chiesa in January. To do so, he will look to hand Islam Makhachev only his second career defeat. Given dos Anjos’s willingness to face whomever is placed in front of him, it’s fair to say that the former champion is undaunted by this challenge.
What is your early prediction for this high-level lightweight contest between Rafael dos Anjos and Islam Makhachev?