When Rafael Fiziev withdrew from his UFC 272 co-main event vs. Rafael dos Anjos due to COVID-19, Islam Makhachev wasted no time calling out the former lightweight champion for a short notice fight. There appeared to be mutual interest in competing at a catchweight (with Makhachev having just fought Bobby Green at a 160 lbs catchweight last weekend), but ultimately the call-up went to Renato Moicano.
RDA wasted no time in taking a shot at Makhachev for not fighting him.
I called his bluff and he folded. Let’s move on...— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) March 1, 2022
Well unfortunately after several previous cancellations of this fight when booked well in advance, the short notice surprise didn’t materialize. UFC president Dana White spoke to Barstool Sports and said that Makhachev turned the fight down.
“Pretty close. I thought we had it done,” White told Barstool Sports (via MMA Fighting). “When I went to bed one of the nights, I thought it was done. Woke up the next morning and found out they turned it down. Islam [turned it down]. No clue [why].”
Makhachev was initially slated for a showdown with fellow contender Beneil Dariush at UFC Vegas 49 before Dariush pulled out with an injury, setting the stage for Green’s short notice appearance. Islam easily won by first-round TKO for his 10th victory in a row.
In his post-fight interview Makhachev said that he needed a title fight, and while it seems inevitable that he’ll be fighting for UFC gold at some point, it looks like Dana is leaning towards re-booking the Dariush bout and if he wins that, then a title shot figures to be next.
“He’s obviously doing very well,” White said about Makhachev. “I love the Dariush fight.
“Since he turned down this fight, we’re going to remake the Dariush fight. We’ll get that fight going. Dying to see that fight. [If] he gets through Dariush, very interesting.”
It should be noted there’s no timetable for Dariush’s return .
Update: Now there is! June or July per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Dos Anjos vs. Moicano will serve as the co-main event to a welterweight grudge match between former title challengers Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington.