Dana White shoots down UFC title shot for Islam Makhachev after turning down RDA fight

UFC, Dana White
SHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 20: Dana White, UFC President gives a speech during 2019 UFC Performance Institute Panel and UFC Fight Night Shenzhen Press Conference at UFC Performance Institute Shanghai on June 20, 2019 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Images)

If there’s one thing that UFC president Dana White doesn’t like, it’s guys who turn down fights. Not only guys who turn down fights, but guys who come out saying they’ll accept a fight only to turnaround and say no.

That is exactly what happened with Islam Makhachev (22-1). The lightweight hailing from Dagestan has been on an incredible winning streak and he continued that this past weekend at UFC Vegas 49. 

Makhachev ran through Bobby Green to win his tenth straight fight. This weekend at UFC 272, Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) was gearing up for a five-round co-main event when he found out his opponent had covid and pulled out of the fight.

The former UFC lightweight champion was adamant about staying on the card. The UFC started working on replacement opponents for RDA and one of those opponents was Islam Makhachev. In fact, Makhachev was the top choice by the promotion.

It was the best fight they could make. The UFC has tried making this fight multiple times in the past. Makhachev came out on Twitter and said that he would step in to face Dos Anjos at 170 pounds this weekend. This callout is now being looked at as a major bluff.

RDA immediately came back and told the UFC that he would take the fight against Makhachev. Dana White told Barstool today that he thought the fight was done. However, the Makhachev camp changed their tune.

No UFC title shot for Makhachev

Per Dana White, he went to bed thinking that Makhachev and RDA would fight at UFC 272. The next morning, he was informed that Makhachev and his team turned down the short-notice fight which prompted them to move to Renato Moicano.

From my understanding, the Makhachev camp firmly believes that he’s next for the UFC lightweight title. Factoring the risk/reward of taking the fight against RDA, they decided that it was not worth the gamble. Simply put, they folded after they got called on their bluff.

That fold is now looking like a horrific mistake. White told Barstool that Makhachev’s next opponent is not going to be the UFC lightweight champion. Instead, the UFC is going to rebook the fight between Makhachev and Beneil Dariush (21-4-1).

This was the fight that was supposed to headline last weekend’s fight night, but Dariush injured his leg. White said that since Makhachev turned down RDA, the Dariush fight would be next and then they’d look at a title shot should he win that fight.