Streaking UFC lightweight contender, Islam Makhachev — currently ranked No. 3 at 155 pounds — was asked to risk his lead in the division title chase by taking on former champion and No. 6-seeded veteran, Rafael dos Anjos, on just a few days notice in the UFC 272 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event this weekend (Sat., March 5, 2022) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The answer was, “No.”
As a result, Makhachev (22-1) will be forced to wait for Beneil Dariush to recover from his broken fibula — which put Makhachev against long-time bruiser Bobby Green on super short notice — to once again prove he’s worthy of competing for the lightweight strap, up for grabs in the Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje title fight at UFC 274 in May.
“He’s obviously doing very well,” UFC President, Dana White, told My Mom’s Basement. “But yeah, if you start looking at who’s around — I love the Dariush fight. So since he turned down this [Dos Anjos] 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].”
Doesn’t sound like Makhachev will be crying himself to sleep.
“Dana, you went to bed too early, you gotta stay up late to get things done,” Makhachev wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a trio of LOL emojis. “I don’t care who you will put in front of me, I’ll smash this whole division.”
Dos Anjos will move on to fight lightweight veteran, Renato Moicano.
Makhachev is the winner of 10 straight with six finishes against good (but not great) competition. Working in his favor is the fact that Dariush stands as his only competition, at least in terms of the latest UFC rankings, so this final (and perhaps somewhat punitive) assignment is all that stands between Makhachev and the 155-pound title, unless something stupid happens.