After being forced out of a headlining fight with Rafael dos Anjos earlier this year (to be replaced by Paul Felder), Islam Makhachev finally has his next opponent. In a bout rumored for well over a week, the Russian will take on Drew Dober next. The fight is expected to take place at UFC 259.
Cageside Press confirmed the news Monday after an initial report by MMA Junkie.
Makhachev (18-1) has won his last six fights, and has been circling a step up in competition for some time. While that had been expected in the RDA fight, a staph infection forced him out of the fight. As a result, the 29-year old teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov has not fought since UFC 242. That bout, well prior to the pandemic, saw Makhachev defeat Davi Ramos by unanimous decision.
The only loss of Makhachev’s career came in his second UFC fight, when he was knocked out by Adriano Martins.
Dober (23-9, 1NC) has put together a solid three-fight win streak of late. Three wins, and three finishes, have seen Dober defeat Marco Polo Reyes, Nasrat Haqparast, and Alexander Hernandez. The 32-year old has earned Performance of the Night bonuses in his last two fights.
Dober and Makhachev were previously scheduled to compete at UFC on FOX 19 in 2016. However, Makhachev was pulled from the fight after testing positive for a banned substance, meldonium. He later accepted a finding of no fault by USADA.
UFC 259 takes place March 6, 2021. A location/venue has not been announced for the card. The following bouts have been reported for the event thus far:
Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson
Aleksandar Rakic vs. Thiago Santos
Uros Medic vs. Aalon Cruz
Randy Costa vs. Trevin Jones
Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov
Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney
Jake Matthews vs. Sean Brady
Drew Dober vs. Islam Makhachev