It’s still not exactly clear why the negotiations for a potential short notice fight between Islam Makhachev and Rafael Dos Anjos fell apart, but Makhachev wants fans to know that it wasn’t his fault. The Dagestani lightweight found himself on the receiving end of some bad press in the lead-up to UFC 272, after Dana White took to Barstool Sports to announce that Makhachev had turned down the RDA booking.
“When I went to bed one of the nights, I thought it was done,” Dana White said of the planned bout. “Woke up the next morning and found out they turned it down. Islam [turned it down]. No clue [why].”
If White claimed not to know why the match-up didn’t happen, however, Dos Anjos was quick to chime in with a reason—claiming that the longtime Khabib Nurmagomedov prodigy had “asked for a million dollars, or something, to take the fight.”
To hear Makhachev tell it, though, that’s all a load of bunk. The American Kickboxing Academy talent recent sat down with ESPN to explain his side of the story. And while he did admit to making a couple “very small conditions,” he says they certainly didn’t include $1 million. He also wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t the UFC who offered him the fight, he called them and asked to fill in (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I don’t want to talk about this, very small. Nothing big,” Makhachev said of his requests to fill in. “Not million dollars, 100 percent not million dollars.”
“Dana [White] said I turned down this fight but Monday morning when I wake up, I just saw some news like Fiziev had COVID, the fight is canceled and I’d been in California on vacation and I wake up and call my manager,” he added. “‘Hey, Ali [Abdelaziz]. I saw some news. Please call UFC and say I’m ready for take this fight.’ I asked about some conditions but very small conditions, nothing big that wasn’t possible to do. UFC [didn’t] call me, not Ali call me, I wake up and I call Ali and I tell him talk with UFC please, I want this fight. But UFC not do it. That’s why the fight didn’t happen and that’s it.”
Whatever the case may be, it seems as though the whole snafu may have cost Makhachev a shot at UFC gold in the short term. Despite a 10-fight UFC winning streak and a shiny 22-1 overall record, White told Barstool Sports that he now plans to re-book Makhachev against Beneil Dariush, since the RDA fight fell through.
“…Now Dana says, ‘Islam has to fight vs. Dariush.’ I have no problem fighting him,” Makhachev revealed. “But who has to fight for the title next? I don’t know. [Dustin] Poirier? He lost many times. [Michael] Chandler lost. [Dan] Hooker, Tony Ferguson, everybody—RDA has four fights, just two wins. [Gregor] Gillespie has fought one time in three years. Who has to fight for the title? I don’t know.”
At the very least, the immediate title picture has already been settled, with Justin Gaethje challenging Charles Oliveira for UFC gold on May 7th at the UFC 274 PPV event, in Phoenix, AZ. After that, however, the next man in line for the lightweight belt remains decidedly unclear.
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