The UFC are scrambling to source a replacement fighter to face former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in this weekend’s main event fight at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas amid reports that Islam Makhachev was forced to withdraw from the event.
News of the withdrawal was first reported by ESPN, though no reason has been given for the Russian fighter’s removal from the card. This marks the second time in the span of a month or so that a fight between the two has fallen apart after Dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from a scheduled bout on ‘Fight Island’ last month following a coronavirus diagnosis.
Dos Anjos took to social media after being made aware of the news to challenge UFC newcomer and former Bellator champion Michael Chandler to step in to fill the gap atop this weekend’s fight card.
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) November 9, 2020
“I wish [Makhachev] a speedy recovery,” Dos Anjos wrote. “Looking for a new partner to dance. Looks like [Michael Chandler] is ready to go. Your move!”
Chandler, 34, is still waiting for his first fight booking in his new home but was listed as a stand-by fighter for last month’s UFC 254 world title fight in Abu Dhabi. While his services weren’t required on that occasion, Chandler is thought to be among the UFC’s consideration for the title picture at the summit of the UFC’s 155-pound division — and a fight with former champion Dos Anjos would certainly put him in the position to confirm that.
Dos Anjos, meanwhile, is set to return to the lightweight division after an eight-fight stint at welterweight where he fought some of the division’s standouts such as Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Robbie Lawler.