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Third time’s a charm? Islam Makhachev hoping UFC rebooks Rafael dos Anjos fight

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UFC 242 mixed martial arts tournament in Abu Dhabi Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

On Saturday night at UFC Vegas 14, Rafael dos Anjos beat a very game Paul Felder to re-establish himself as a threat in the UFC lightweight division. But it wasn’t originally supposed to be Felder facing dos Anjos. The original fight was “RDA” vs. Islam Makhachev, until Makhachev was pulled due to a serious staph infection.

And before this UFC Vegas date, Makhachev and dos Anjos were supposed to fight at UFC 254 on October 24th. That time, the fight didn’t go down because dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19.

Now Islam is angling to get their fight booked again.

Unfortunately for Makhachev, dos Anjos may have moved too far forward for that fight to still make sense. Paul Felder is currently ranked #7 at lightweight, so there’s a good chance “RDA” may end up somewhere in the upper top ten after that win over “The Irish Dragon.” Islam Makhachev is #12 ... even with all the hype around him, it’s easy to see dos Anjos’ management team calling for someone up the ladder.

As for what Dos Anjos is thinking about, he already called out Conor McGregor, who sounded open enough to the idea on Twitter. Past that?

“I want to fight for the belt. The belt is my goal and whoever leads me to the belt,” Dos Anjos said during the post-fight press conference. “Whoever in this top five, fighters are playing very strategic. People don’t want to take fights because they want someone else to take a fight because they want to see what the result is going to be.”

“I don’t like that. I’m an old-school guy and everybody fights everybody back in the day. But I feel like guys these days, they plan it so strategic. We’ll see how things are going to go and how they’re going to play out.”

That’s not a no, but we think it’ll take some insistence on the part of the UFC to push this twice burned contest forward for an immediate third attempt.