Rafael dos Anjos is interviewed following his victory over Paul Felder at UFC Fight Night 182. | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes?

Rafael dos Anjos says his lopsided decision victory over Renato Moicano tasted extra sweet after finding out Islam Makhachev was denied a title shot after ‘paying politics’ ahead of UFC 272.

Makhachev offered to step in and fight RDA on short notice but later backtracked after Dos Anjos ‘called his bluff’. Dos Anjos doesn’t believe Makhachev ever had any intention of fighting him after Rafael Fiziev pulled out of UFC 272 and is glad UFC president Dana White snubbed his title shot.

“You guys heard what Dana [White] said, Islam didn’t take the fight,” dos Anjos told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour following his five-round thrashing of Moicano (h/t MMA Fighting). “I said 165 [pounds] — like Bobby Green jumped into the fight with him at 160, he couldn’t fight at 165? Then he said 170 and they called me and said, ‘Islam wants to go 170.’ I said OK, no problem. … But the next morning, ‘Oh, no, no, we’re not taking the fight.’”

“I called his bluff. I think that’s what it was. They probably thought, ‘RDA will never take this fight at 170,’ but you know what, I was training, I didn’t want to waste a whole fight camp, I hadn’t fought for 16 months, I just wanted to go fight someone.”

“It feels great, man. It feels really good,” dos Anjos said about Makhachev losing his title shot. “I even texted Beneil [Dariush], ‘Now I got your fight back!’ That’s the price he pays for playing politics. Play these little games, and now he had his title shot secured and now he’s got to fight another one.”

Makhachev has since responded to White, claiming that he never requested a $1 million payday and that the UFC never offered him the fight; he was the one who contacted them.

Title fight or no title fight, $1 million payday or no $1 million payday, Makhachev is still considered one of the top contenders at 155 pounds and is likely just one more win away from entering title contention. The Dagestani is currently #3 in the UFC lightweight rankings, while dos Anjos, the former champion, is #6.

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