Fresh off defeating Thiago Moises in his first ever main event, Islam Makhachev has landed a former UFC lightweight champion for his next bout in the form of Rafael dos Anjos.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reports that the bout will take place in the lightweight division and will happen at UFC 267 on October 30. That event is scheduled to take place on the so-called Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Dos Anjos told ESPN that he wanted a five round contest with Makhachev, but that this request was turned down. “Islam doesn’t want to fight five rounds. That was my request, but it didn’t work out. So, fine. Let’s do three then. He’s been talking a lot of crap — let’s see who is who now. I’m ready to go. This is a title eliminator [in] my eyes.”
Makhachev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, who formerly managed dos Anjos, refuted that claim saying his client had no preference between a three or five round fight.
“The UFC offered a three-round fight and Islam said yes,” Abdelaziz said. “We don’t care about the number of rounds — it’s no problem. The UFC asked for this, and this is what the UFC got. I’m looking at this as a No. 1 contender’s match. The winner should fight for the title.”
Dos Anjos and Makhachev were due to face each other last October. However, that bout was scrapped after the Brazilian tested positive for COVID-19.
The 36-year-old had a 4-4 start to his UFC career, which began in 2008. After that run dos Anjos pulled off a five fight winning streak which included wins over Evan Dunham and Donald Cerrone. That was snapped by a unanimous decision loss to Makhachev’s close friend Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2014.
After that loss dos Anjos stopped Jason High and then Benson Henderson to earn a UFC lightweight title shot versus Anthony Pettis at UFC 185 in 2015. Dos Anjos thrashed Pettis over five rounds to clinch gold. He then defended against Cerrone with a quick TKO.
Dos Anjos was then set to face a prime Conor McGregor. However, an injury prevented that happening. That lead to Nate Diaz stepping in on short notice. Dos Anjos went on to lose his title to Eddie Alvarez, by TKO, in 2016.
Since then dos Anjos has gone 5-5 with wins over Neil Magny, Robbie Lawler, Kevin Lee and Paul Felder. His losses over that span include welterweight defeats to Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards.
After beating Leo Kuntz in his UFC debut in 2015, Makhachev was knocked out by Adriano Martins at UFC 192. Makhachev has been undefeated since then with wins over Nik Lentz, Gleison Tibau and Kajan Johnson.
This year Makhachev has impressed with submission victories over Drew Dober and Moises.
UFC 267 is currently slated to be headlined by Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira for the UFC light heavyweight title. Aljimain Sterling versus Petr Yan for the bantamweight title currently serves as the co-main event.