Former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos(30-13) will face Islam Makhachev(20-1) at UFC 267.
RDA has posted on Twitter last month that Islam had accepted UFC’s offer to fight him in a 5 round fight in Abu Dhabi. Dos Anjos accepted the fight at the time. Makhachev was travelling to Russia and did not receive the offer yet.
ESPN has now confirmed that Makhachev has agreed to the fight via his manager Ali Abdelaziz. Abdelaziz told ESPN, “The UFC offered a three-round fight and Islam said yes. We don’t care about the number of rounds — it’s no problem. The UFC asked for this, and this is what the UFC got. I’m looking at this as a No. 1 contender’s match. The winner should fight for the title.”
UFC is yet to make the fight official. UFC 267 is projected for Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on 30 October 2021. Jan Blancowicz will defend the Light Heavyweight Championship in the main event. The event will likely air for free on ESPN and ESPN Plus.
Dos Anjos was one of the fighters that Makhachev had called out after his win over Thiago Moses at UFC Vegas 31 main event. Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler and Baniel Dariush were the other fighters that Makhachev had mentioned as next possible opponents.
The Russian is currently on an eight-fight winning streak dating back to September 2016, with half of them being finishes. Two of those wins have come in this year itself and is looking to add a third win with his eyes on the Fighter of the year award.
Rafael dos Anjos is also coming off a win against Paul Felder in his return to the lightweight division after 3 years. Prior to that RDA had lost welterweight bouts to Leon Edwards and Michael Chiesa. RDA has lost his last two lightweight bouts prior to the win against Felder.
This is UFC’s third attempt to pair up these two fighters. The first was first scheduled for UFC 254 in October 2020. But dos Anjos had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Makhachev pulled out from 14 November Fight Night after suffering from an injury/illness.