Makhachev Wants Dos Anjos Or Gaethje Next, Talks Oliveira vs Chandler
Islam Makhachev expects to face Rafael dos Anjos next, but is also open to fighting Justin Gaethje should the opportunity come his way. Speaking on the UFC lightweight division, the 29 year old also said that he doesn’t think Michael Chandler deserves to fight for the title against Charles Oliveira at UFC 262.
After his impressive third-round submission victory over Drew Dober at UFC 259, Makhachev said he expects to face dos Anjos next, due to a lack of options. As well as the fact that the two have unfinished business.
Makhachev and dos Anjos were originally scheduled to compete at UFC 254 last October, but the Brazilian had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID. The pair were then rebooked for UFC Vegas 14, but the Russian had to pull out due to an undisclosed injury and was replaced on short notice by Paul Felder, who went on to lose to the former champion via split-decision.
Rafael Dos Anjos Has Changed His Tune
Since then, dos Anjos has been campaigning for bigger fights, including a showdown with Conor McGregor. RDA also stated previously that he’s willing to fight Makhachev, as long he’s given a rematch against Khabib should he come out victorious. This was however, before Dana White made the undefeated Dagestani’s retirement official last week.
“I don’t know why his opinion changed so quickly,” Makhachev said. “He won a fight and started acting differently. He was quiet when we had a fight scheduled. He got taken off the card and I asked for a replacement but the UFC said they’d give me a five-round main event then I quietly got on a plane to the US without my team because I wanted that fight, then I got sick and he had a fight and after that he started talking differently.”
Islam Makhachev’s Options
Makhachev explained why he thinks the UFC will book him against dos Anjos a third time.
“I don’t know what’s going on with the UFC matchmaking but I think that’s what will end up happening,” Makhachev speculated. “Most of the top ten fighters are busy but I’m 90 percent sure they’ll give me a top ten guy…
“We know that Felder doesn’t want to fight often. He has other things going on with the UFC and isn’t eager to fight anymore. As far as Hooker, I saw that he recently came home. He was quarantined for a long time so I don’t think he’ll want to come back soon. He’ll probably want to rest after getting knocked out, so I think they’ll give me dos Anjos.”
Potential Justin Gaethje Fight
A fight between Chandler and Gaethje was in the works for UFC 262, until the UFC booked the former Bellator champion and Oliveira to fight for the vacant title. A trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier is also in the works for the summer.
This leaves Gaethje in a tough spot, but if he isn’t willing to sit around and wait for a top five contender, Makhachev said that he would love to fight him.
“Yes, it’s possible. Justin and I know each other but it’s not like we’re friends,” Makhachev said. “It’s possible. He’s free right now. Why not? I’d love to fight him.”
Michael Chandler Doesn’t Deserve Title Shot
Makhachev went on to say that he feels that Gaethje and Poirier are more deserving of the title shot against Oliveira than Chandler, who he feels hasn’t proved himself in the UFC yet.
“Honestly, I think Oliveira deserves it. He’s got a good win streak, but I don’t agree with Chandler being in there,” Makhachev said. “He had one UFC fight and he hasn’t been tested. That first fight ended quickly. I think Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier could’ve fought for the title. But the UFC always has their own plans.”
Who would you like to see Islam Makhachev fight next, Rafael dos Anjos or Justin Gaethje?