How close were we to getting Islam Makhachev versus Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of UFC 272 this weekend?
UFC President Dana White fielded that question while speaking to Barstool Sports on Wednesday, and the answer was “pretty close.”
“I thought we had it done,” White admitted, adding that “When I went to bed, one of the nights I thought it was done, woke up the next morning and found out they turned it down.”
Asked to clarify exactly who turned the fight down, White replied “Islam [Makhachev].”
Makhachev fought last week, taking out Bobby Green within a round and taking virtually zero damage in the process. Still, it was a surprise to many when the Dagestani threw his name in the hat as a possible replacement for Rafael Fiziev at UFC 272 this Saturday. Fiziev was forced out of his fight with dos Anjos after testing positive for COVID-19.
Whether it was a weight issue or some other reason, White added that he had “no clue” as to why Makhachev turned the fight down in the end. But having thrown his name in the hat only to withdraw it, it seems it won’t be a title shot next for Islam Makhachev. Instead, White stated that they’ll go back to his originally scheduled opponent from last weekend, Beneil Dariush.
“I love the Dariush fight. Since he turned down this fight, we’re going to remake the Dariush fight,” said White. “We’ll get that fight going, dying to see that fight. And then, he gets through Dariush, very interesting.”
White also touched on the criticism he’s seen over talk of Conor McGregor returning from injury straight into a potential title shot.
“The problem is, any time I do a f*cking interview, all anybody wants to ask is ‘you think Conor McGregor will get a f*cking title shot?’ That’s all they f*cking ask,” exclaimed White. “Conor McGregor isn’t anywhere near coming back yet. I don’t know, let’s see what happens.”
“Anybody who is pissed off that Conor McGregor might get a f*cking title shot, you’re an idiot too. If that pisses you off— Jesus Christ.”