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Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober in the works for UFC 259

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Islam Makhachev
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Islam Makhachev looks to make his return to action in March.

MMA Fighting confirmed with sources with knowledge of the prospective matchup that Makhachev (18-1) is in talks to fight Drew Dober (23-9, 1 NC) in a lightweight bout at UFC 259 on March 6, following in initial report by ESPN.

Makhachev was unable to step into the cage in 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into the lightweight contender’s plans. He was scheduled to fight Alexander Hernandez at a pay-per-view event April only to see that show canceled due to the pandemic (Makhachev also faced visa issues related to COVID-19). He was then scheduled to face former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos on two occasions, but the first booking was rescheduled when dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19 and then the matchup was scrapped altogether when Makhachev got a staph infection less than a week before the second booking.

The 29-year-old Russian is currently on one of the best streaks in the lightweight division, having beaten his previous six opponents. In 2019, he scored decision wins over Davi Ramos and Arman Tsarukyan.

Dober, 32, had a successful 2020, competing twice and scoring a pair of highlight-reel knockouts. In January, he stopped Nasrat Haqparast with strikes in just 70 seconds and then he defeated Alexander Hernandez by second-round TKO four months later. That gave Dober six wins in his previous seven UFC outings.

A main event has yet to be announced for UFC 259, though other reported bouts include Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney, Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic, and Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov.