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Khabib's friend left the Kazakh fighter without a fight in the UFC? Details

Kazakh UFC fighter Damir Ismagulov (23-1) may lose the opportunity to substitute on short notice against top lightweight fighter Rafael dos Anjos (30-13) from Brazil. The desire of one of the main contenders for the belt may hinder the plans of the 31-year-old athlete, the correspondent of reports.

Initially, dos Anjos was supposed to fight in the co-main event of the UFC 272 tournament, which will be held on March 6 in Las Vegas (Nevada, USA), with a native of Kazakhstan, Rafael Fiziev (11-1). But in the end, Fiziev, who occupies 11th place in the lightweight rating, passed a positive doping test upon arrival in the United States. So, dos Anjos, who is on the sixth line, was left without an opponent a few days before the tournament.

The first to express a desire to replace Kazakhstani Ismagulov, who has long been in search of fights. He asked Rafael to sign a contract for the duel, and also promised that "he won't hit hard." But the Brazilian ex-UFC champion ignored this proposal. Then came third-ranked Russian Islam Makhachev (22-1) on the radar, following in the footsteps of his friend Khabib Nurmagomedov. And this is quite an interesting challenge, because the 30-year-old Makhachev got his tenth victory in a row just last weekend, finishing the American Bobby Green (29-13-1) in the first round. Makhachev explained his challenge by the fact that he and Dos Anjos have unfinished business, and it really is. Their duel with the Brazilian was broken or postponed three times already. In October 2020, Rafael was unable to fight due to a positive test for coronavirus. The fight was postponed for three weeks and it was announced that Makhachev and dos Anjos would head the event.

But in November, Islam already passed a positive test, and Rafael was picked up by another opponent as a replacement. In October 2021, the UFC tried to organize this meeting for the third time, but shortly before the UFC 267 tournament, dos Anjos was out of action due to injury, and Dan Hooker (21-11) entered the cage instead. Makhachev offered to fight at 170 pounds (77 kilograms, welterweight) the Brazilian responded with interest, but asked to organize a catchweight bout up to 165 pounds (74.8 kilograms). But after a couple of hours, the Brazilian accepted the conditions of Islam and declared that he was ready to fight at 170 pounds.

Interestingly, Islam absolutely does not need this fight in terms of ratings. The Russian won just a few days ago, and UFC President Dana White said that Makhachev will be the next contender for the belt and will meet the winner of the confrontation Charles Oliveira (32-8-0-1) - Justin Gaethje (23-3).

But a friend of Khabib decided that it was better to close all questions about the confrontation with dos Anjos. After the fight with Green, Islam said that he would remove several people from the ratings, and one of them is just Rafael. Now the fighters will have the opportunity to resolve all issues in the cage. Only Ismagulov, who still cannot wait for a contract for a fight, will lose from this. Damir has four wins in four fights in the UFC, but he is not in the top 15, and perhaps for this reason dos Anjos ignored his challenge. It is unlikely that a top fighter will want to risk taking a fight with a powerful fighter without a line in the rating.

But Islam for dos Anjos will be a good risk. Although Makhachev will be the favorite, one cannot fail to note how great the motivation of the 37-year-old Brazilian will be. Defeating the third lightweight, who is now considered by many to be invulnerable, is a resounding challenge.

Recall that Ismagulov fought his last fight in May 2021, defeating Rafael Alves (20-10) from Brazil by unanimous decision.

Khabib's friend left the Kazakh fighter without a fight in the UFC? Details