This past weekend, Islam Makhachev took on Bobby Green in the main event of UFC Vegas 49. Originally slated to face Beneil Dariush in a de facto No. 1 contender’s match, Green stepped in on short notice after Dariush was injured, and Makhachev made quick work of the late replacement, stopping Green with strikes in the first round. It was the 10th win in a row for Makhachev, and many are calling for the Dagestani fighter to get a title shot next, but former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos believes those calls are premature.
“We knew what he was going to do,” dos Anjos said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Seems like Bobby Green stepped in to collect his check and he did it. He went in, collected his check, and walked away. The guy fought two weeks ago. We know how hard it is to get ready, to fight. I don’t want to take any credit from anybody but it is what it is. Bobby Green went there, filled up the hole, saved the card, make his money, that’s it.”
“I don’t think [Makhachev deserves a title shot], to be honest with you. He’s got a 10 [fight] win streak, but look at his résumé. He didn’t fight any top guys, any top contenders. He was supposed to fight Benny [Dariush] but unfortunately Benny got injured. So I don’t think so.”
Though Makhachev is currently on a 10-fight winning streak, he only has one win over a currently ranked fighter, Dan Hooker, who sits at No. 8 in the UFC rankings but has already stated his intention to return to the featherweight division. The lack of a signature win has led some, like dos Anjos, to push back against Makhachev’s immediate title aspirations.
Of course, dos Anjos also has his own history with Makhachev. The two have been scheduled to fight one another on three separate occasions but injury and illness have conspired to prevent the matchup from taking place.
However, the two men are now presented with an opportunity to finally settle the score between them. Dos Anjos was set to face Rafael Fiziev in the co-main event of UFC 272 this Saturday, however, on Monday Fiziev was forced out of the fight after contracting COVID-19. Now, the UFC is in search of a new opponent for dos Anjos — and though he doubts Makhachev will do so, the former lightweight champion says he’d happily accept the fight if offered.
“I’m game. Like I told you, I’m always game,” dos Anjos said. “I’ll fight anybody. I fight. I’m a fighter. I’m here to fight anybody Saturday.
“These guys, they don’t fight like that. They have to have the perfect fight camp, everything perfect, blah, blah, blah, so they can fight. They’re not gonna do it.”
But despite dos Anjos’ doubts, Mahkachev may in fact be game as well. Shortly after it was announced that Fiziev had withdrawn, Makhachev offered to step in at 170 pounds via Twitter, and given the short-notice nature of the fight, dos Anjos countered by suggesting the two fight at a 165-pound catchweight.
At this time, no official replacement has been determined for dos Anjos, but the former lightweight champion is adamant he wishes to remain on the card, be that against Makhachev or anyone else the UFC can get to step up.
“I’ll fight anybody,” dos Anjos said. “I’m a fighter. I’m willing to fight. I can’t throw a fight camp away right now, at this stage of my career.”
UFC 272 takes place this Saturday at the T-Mobil Arena in Las Vegas.