Islam Makhachev is set to take on Dan Hooker at UFC 267 this weekend. Hooker is a late replacement for former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, who withdrew due to an undisclosed injury (which required surgery).
During a press conference on Yas Island, UAE—which serves as this weekend’s venue—Makhachev claimed that the UFC had two fighters in mind to replace RDA, Hooker and Tony Ferguson.
Makhachev further claimed that Ferguson didn’t answer the UFC regarding a potential fight at UFC 267.
“They gave me two names, Tony Ferguson or Dan Hooker,” Makhachev said (ht MMA Fighting). “They say Tony Ferguson don’t answer, that’s why, Hooker is ready, I just say let’s go. It doesn’t matter.”
“I think Tony is finished now,” continued Makhachev. “He’s lost three [in a row], that’s why I think it’s not a good idea to fight with him.”
Makhachev has never been short of unkind words for Ferguson. The Dagestani seems intent to carry on the rivalry started by his close friend and teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were matched up on multiple occasions, but for a wild variety of reasons those fights would never materialize. With Nurmagomedov retiring in 2020, that match-up goes down as one the best, and most intriguing, UFC fights to never happen.
Makhachev vs. Dos Anjos is at risk of similar infamy. That proposed match-up has fallen through three times in the past 12 months.
At UFC 267 Makhachev will hope to go 3-0 in 2021, building on submission wins of Drew Dober and Thiago Moises. He’s currently 20-1 as a pro, his only loss being a shock KO to Adriano Martins in his second ever UFC contest.