Islam Makhachev will seemingly have to fight one more time before a UFC title shot after he allegedly flip-flopped on a short notice replacement fight on Saturday.
After Rafael dos Anjos lost his original opponent for UFC 272, Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) was one of the fighters who offered his services. The surging lightweight contender is fresh off a main event win over Bobby Green at UFC Fight Night 202 this past weekend, but put his hand up to fight dos Anjos in a bout that has been canceled three times before.
Dos Anjos was all in on the situation, even offered to move up to welterweight to alleviate pressure off Makhachev for a big weight cut. The momentum died there, though, because shortly thereafter it was confirmed Renato Moicano would fight dos Anjos at UFC 272. The former UFC champ and Makhachev subsequently blamed each other for it failing to materialize.
UFC president Dana White offered some clarity to exactly what happened on Wednesday, and he pointed the finger at Makhachev and his team for the fight not happening.
“I thought we had it done,” White said in an interview with Barstool Sports. “When I went to bed one of the nights there, I thought it was done. Woke up the next morning and found out (Makhachev) turned it down.
“It’s, ‘What’s the best fight that you can possibly make?’ The best fight that we could possibly make would’ve been him and Islam. RDA vs. Islam. Islam turns down the fight, ‘What’s the best fight you could make?’ Moicano.”
Although White did not outright express any anger or frustration toward Makhachev, who is currently riding a 10-fight winning streak and high in the queue for a title shot at 155 pounds. However, it appears Makhachev’s push for a championship bout between the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7 will go unfulfilled.
Instead, White said he wants to see Makhachev fight Beneil Dariush (21-4-1 MMA, 15-4-1 UFC), who suffered a serious leg injury that forced him out of UFC Fight Night 202, where he was replaced by Green.
“I love the Dariush fight,” White said. “Since he turned down this fight we’re going to remake the Dariush fight. Dying to see that fight. And then (if) he gets through Dariush, it’s very interesting.”
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