Islam Makhachev to the rescue? The Russian certainly seems willing to make a stunning seven-day turnaround in a bid to save the co-headliner of UFC 272 this weekend, offering his services on short notice to the organization in the form of a 170lbs reworked bout with former lightweight kingpin, Rafael dos Anjos.
Makhachev, who headlined UFC Vegas 49 on Saturday, stopped short-notice replacement, Bobby Green at a 160lbs catchweight limit inside the opening three minutes of their first round clash – turning in his tenth consecutive victory with a slew of ground strikes.
For dos Anjos, the Brazilian was once again left opponent-less following a recent run of inactivity – with two-time slated foe, Rafael Fiziev forced from their Saturday co-main event after returning a positive COVID-19 test result.
However, the promotion are actively searching for a short-notice replacement for the surging Fiziev, in a bid to keep former titleholder, dos Anjos on the card. And they may have an option in the form of a fourth scheduled bout between Makhachev and dos Anjos.
“170??? Let’s do it,” Islam Makhachev tweeted. “We have unfinished business RDA (Rafael dos Anjos) @ufc @espnmma @bokamotoESPN @MMAjunkieJohn.”
Makhachev, who currently sits at #4 in the official lightweight pile, was first booked to meet with Niteroi native, dos Anjos back at UFC 254 in October 2020, until the latter tested positive for COVID-19. A pairing was then set for UFC Vegas 14 in November 2020 – until Makhachev was forced from the pairing after he contracted a staph infection before the bout.
Most recently Makhachev was set to meet with dos Anjos at UFC 267 back in October on ‘Fight Island’, until dos Anjos underwent an arthroscopic knee operation – leaving him insufficient time to prepare for a bout with the top-5 contender.
Following his win over Green two days ago, Makhachev suggested both a title-eliminator reworked clash with the #3 ranked, Beneil Dariush, as well as a lightweight title challenge against the victor of the upcoming UFC 274 bout between Charles Oliveira and stablemate, Justin Gaethje.
For dos Anjos, the Brazilian former gold holder remained on that aforenoted UFC Vegas 14 card, landing a rather comprehensive split decision win over Paul Felder on short notice.
An hour following Makhachev’s above tweet aimed at dos Anjos, the Brazilian replied — himself suggesting a 165lbs matchup with the American Kickboxing Academy, citing Makhachev’s teammate, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s upcoming debut of a 165lbs division in his Eagle FC promotion.
“165lbs!!” Rafael dos Anjos tweeted. “Division you guy (Khabib Nurmagomedov) created. I’m game.”