Islam Makhachev looked like he was about to compete on back-to-back Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, but ultimately, it just wasn’t meant to be.
One half of UFC 272’s co-main event, Rafael dos Anjos, lost his original opponent, Rafael Fiziev, on Monday (Feb. 28, 2022) because of a positive COVID-19 test. Immediately, several Lightweights began jumping at the opportunity. Perhaps the most thrilling option was the third-ranked contender in Makhachev.
Both fighters had verbally agreed to the bout on Twitter, but according to UFC President, Dana White, what went down behind the scenes was a different story.
“Pretty close, I thought we had it done,” White said on My Mom’s Basement. “When I went to bed, one of the nights that I thought it was done, woke up the next morning and found out they turned it down. Islam [turned it down]. No clue [why].
“It [comes down to] what’s the best fight you can possibly make,” White added. “So the best fight that we could possibly make would have been him (dos Anjos) and Islam. Right? Islam turns down the fight, what’s the best fight you can make? [Renato] Moicano.”
As White mentioned, Renato “Moicano” Carneiro will be the man to fill in for Fiziev opposite the former champion. Among other names who were willing to step up, the retired Paul Felder who last fought dos Anjos on short notice was admittedly an “interesting” option, White said.
For the streaking Makhachev, he extended his current stretch of victories to 10 straight with a UFC Vegas 49 main event win over Bobby Green (watch highlights). The fight was originally supposed to be Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush, but the injury bug had other plans.
Now, White intends on rebooking the fight we missed out on.
“He’s obviously doing very well,” White said of Makhachev. “But yeah, if you start looking at who’s around — I love the Dariush fight. So since he turned down this fight, we’re gonna remake the Dariush fight. We’ll get that fight going, dying to see that fight then if he gets through Dariush, it’s gonna be very interesting. 100 percent [a title shot with a win].”