HEATED: Rafael dos Anjos Calls Out Khabib Nurmagomedov After Possible Booking Against Islam Makhachev

Published 03/11/2021, 8:54 AM EST
BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 20: Islam Makhachev of Russia celebrates after his knockout victory over Gleison Tibau of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC 220 event at TD Garden on January 20, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Islam Makhachev and Rafael dos Anjos never got to fight inside the UFC. Despite being booked to face each other multiple times, their match-up kept falling apart. Eventually, the UFC just had RDA face Paul Felder and re-booked Makhachev with Drew Dober. Both RDA and Islam won their fights, and many are presuming their fight is back on.

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The pair started adding some fuel to the fire on Twitter, when Makhachev called out RDA to finally complete their matchup in July. However, RDA had a condition to fighting Makhachev. The condition is that if RDA beats Islam; he gets to fight the retired Khabib Nurmagomedov. Islam responded by letting RDA know that he will ensure Khabib stays retired by beating him.

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Obviously, just because RDA said it doesn’t mean he will get to fight Khabib. After all, Khabib has already beaten him. Even though he is on a strong run, the boat to face Khabib seems to have passed for most of the top fighters. But RDA vs Makhachev is a realistic fight booking, which will be exciting to see, if it finally happens this year.

Islam Makhachev vs Rafael dos Anjos: Why do they want this fight?

Feasibly, both men could ask for higher-ranked opponents. The slow way the LW division has been functioning with the title logjam means that a lot of top contenders are sitting out until there is clarity. So if top-five fighters aren’t willing to step up, both RDA and Islam Makhachev know that a win over the other would legitimize their title claims.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 14: Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil reacts after his victory over Paul Felder in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Makhachev is being touted as the next Khabib, so it is a great opportunity for RDA to stop the rumor mills. However, RDA has himself been a part of the building of Khabib’s legacy. This will be a tricky contest. While Islam is definitely not at Khabib’s level, has he learned enough to outfox a former UFC Champion like RDA?

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Both men staying active against each other is a very smart move. However, this will mean that the loser falls off the title race and has to rebuild. While that may be an option for many, these fighters will be looking to get a star booking against each other to settle it.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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