Islam Makhachev has been forced to pull out of his main event fight against former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Vegas 14.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. No reason has been given for the last-minute cancellation, and the UFC is currently looking for a replacement fighter to face dos Anjos, who is making his return to the 155lbs division after a four year run at welterweight.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 8, 2020
It’s unclear why Islam was forced to withdraw from the fight, The UFC is in the process of finding dos Anjos a potential short-notice replacement. This marks the second cancellation of a fight between Makhachev and dos Anjos. They were supposed to fight on Oct. 24 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, but dos Anjos was forced off the card after testing positive for COVID-19. Makhachev has been in Las Vegas since last month, preparing for the rescheduled date.
Islam Makhachev is a teammate and close friend of recently retired lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Saturday was supposed to be the first main event of his career, regardless of promotion. He has been fighting professionally since 2010 and with the UFC since 2015. In recent years, Nurmagomedov predicted numerous times Islam would eventually hold the UFC’s 155-pound championship, once Khabib walked away from the sport.
Rafael Dos Anjos wishes a speedy recovery to Islam but wants Chandler next
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) November 9, 2020
I wish @MAKHACHEVMMA a speed recovery. Looking for a new partner to dance. Looks like @MikeChandlerMMA is ready to go. Your move!
Dos Anjos is angling to take on Michael Chandler, which would position him right back up at the top of the 155-pound division with a win. Chandler is currently being targeted for a Tony Ferguson fight by the UFC, but that has proven to be somewhat difficult to sign. So who knows if dos Anjos vs. Chandler is a realistic possibility. Michael Chandler signed with UFC in September and was pegged to be the emergency fighter if Justin Gaethje or Khabib Nurmagomedov was unable to make the UFC 254 main event. The former Bellator lightweight world champion has yet to make his debut for the company.
These would be less than ideal circumstances for his first fight, though, and he has tried talking his way into a lightweight title opportunity following Nurmagomedov’s retirement. Even though Chandler has a proven track record from his time with Bellator, UFC might prefer for him to work his way up the lightweight division. Beating dos Anjos, who dropped to the lightweight classification for Islam Makhachev, on short notice would be a great way to make a strong first impression.
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