Rafael dos Anjos is not aboard the Islam Makhachev hype train.
Makhachev recently returned to the Octagon after more than a year away at UFC 259, where he submitted Drew Dober with an arm-triangle choke in the third round of their fight. The dominant, Khabib Nurmagomedov-esque performance was widely praised, but it did not turn Dos Anjos into a believer.
Dos Anjos expressed his opinion about Makhachev in a response on Instagram to some comments made by Daniel Cormier during an episode of ESPN’s DC & Helwani show on Monday. The former UFC lightweight champion questioned why Makhachev was being hyped up so much for beating Dober, who was also defeated by his teammate Beneil Dariush without the same kind of response.
“Did he just beat a top contender?” wrote Dos Anjos. “[Beneil Dariush] beat Dober and nobody say crap. Stop this hype.”
Makhachev was made aware of the comments from Dos Anjos and took to Twitter to issue his own response in the form of a fight proposal between the two men.
“Hey [Rafael dos Anjos] if you don't like all this hype around me, let’s finish our business in July,” wrote Makhachev.
Dos Anjos quickly accepted this proposal, but added his own stipulation of getting a rematch with the Khabib Nurmagomedov scheduled right after he beats Makhachev. Dos Anjos and Nurmagomedov fought before in 2014 at UFC on FOX: Werdum vs. Browne, where the former defeated the latter by unanimous decision. Nurmagomedov has since retired from competition.
Dos Anjos and Makhachev were supposed to meet on two separate occasions. The duo was first set to fight at UFC 254 in October of last year, but Dos Anjos was forced off of the card due to a positive COVID-19 test. The fight was rescheduled about a month later for the main event of UFC Vegas 14, but fell through once again after Makhachev pulled out because of a staph infection.
Although both Dos Anjos and Makhachev went on to fight other opponents, they have continued to express interest in fighting one another at some point.