Islam Makhachev is officially set for his biggest fight yet as he and Rafael dos Anjos have been rebooked for an October showdown.
ESPN broke the news on Monday that the pair of ranked lightweights are set to compete at UFC 267 on October 30 in Abu Dhabi. They were originally scheduled to clash twice in 2020. The first being for October only to fall through due to dos Anjos contracting COVID-19. Makhachev was then forced out with an injury when rebooked for a month later.
Speaking to ESPN following the news, Rafael dos Anjos shared his hopes for the bout to have two additional rounds.
“Islam doesn’t want to fight five rounds,” dos Anjos said. “That was my request, but it didn’t work out. So, fine. Let’s do three then. He’s been talking a lot of crap, let’s see who is who now. I’m ready to go. This is a title eliminator my eyes.”
Regarding the possibility of threes rounds vs. five, Makhachev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz retorted to dos Anjos’ comments.
“The UFC offered a three-round fight and Islam said, ‘Yes,’” Abdelaziz said. “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.”
Rafael dos Anjos (30-13) is a former lightweight champion and currently sits at No. 7 in the UFC rankings. He won the title in March 2015 with a dominant unanimous decision over Anthony Pettis. A first-round TKO title defense in his rematch with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone followed before dos Anjos dropped the belt to Eddie Alvarez.
As for Makhachev, his last victory came a matter of weeks ago in his first UFC main event opposite Thiago Moises. The Russian went to 20-1 when finishing Moises with a fourth-round rear-naked choke. He’s now ranked at No. 5.