UFC books Islam Makhachev – Rafael Dos Anjos

The UFC has finalized a pivotal matchup in the lightweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report last night that the promotion had finalized a battle between surging contender Islam Makhachev (20-1) and former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13).

The fight will take place at UFC 267 on October 30th. UFC 267 will take place on Fight Island and will actually be free to watch on either ESPN or ABC. The promotion is offering this numbered event for free due to UFC 268 being just one week later.

This will be the second fight back in the lightweight division for RDA. Dos Anjos made his return to the lightweight division back in November after he had spent the last couple of years in the UFC‘s welterweight division.

RDA returned with an impressive win over Paul Felder. However, his original opponent that night was Islam Makhachev. Makhachev suffered an injury and the UFC called upon Felder to step in on short notice.

Nevertheless, the former champion put on a great performance. Now, he’s going to be tasked with defeating the surging Dagestan contender. RDA has dealt with some injuries in 2021 but the former UFC champion is healthy and ready to go for this one.

UFC’s Future Lightweight Champion?

When you ask most people about Islam Makhachev, they will tell you he’s a future UFC champion. Makhachev is the protégé and close friend of former lightweight champion and pound-for-pound king, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov has taken on the role as Makhachev’s head coach in 2021 and Makhachev has been nothing short of dominant. His first fight of the year was at UFC 259 against Drew Dober. Makhachev dominated and submitted Dober in the third round.

Then, the UFC had trouble getting someone to take a fight against him. Thiago Moises stepped up and accepted a main event slot against Makhachev. Makhachev dominated Moises from the opening bell to the finish.

He scored a Rear-Naked Choke in the fourth round of their fight. This is the biggest step up in competition Makhachev has seen in his career. RDA is no pushover, but if Makhachev can dominate him like he has everyone else, the lightweight division should be terrified.

After another dominant win at UFC Vegas 31, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 31, all eyes were on Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev (20-1). Makhachev was going for his eighth consecutive win in the lightweight division, and it wasn’t going to be easy. He was taking on top fifteen ranked Thiago Moises (15-5).

Like Makhachev, Moises is looked at as one of the bright prospects in the lightweight division. Three years younger than Makhachev, Moises was looking to shock the world by derailing the Dagestani Hype Train.

However, at UFC Vegas 31, Islam Makhachev showed the world why he was so special. Thiago Moises had some bright spots here and there, but for the most part, Saturday night was all Islam Makhachev.

Even when Moises would do something well, Makhachev would immediately counter with something better. In the middle rounds, it was Moises that actually engaged in the grappling. Moises actually landed a takedown, but was immediately reversed by Makhachev.

For the most part, it was a mauling from Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31. In the fourth round, Makhachev got in deep on a takedown and put Moises on his back. Makhachev transitioned to the back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 31?

With this win, it’s clear that Makhachev needs a step up in competition in the lightweight division. There should never be a scenario where he’s fighting guys outside of the top ten moving forward and I think the UFC realizes that.

Dan Hooker called out Makhachev for a fight in September today and that is a fight that I really like. However, I think there’s a better matchup at lightweight for Makhachev. I believe he should fight former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) next.

RDA was just the backup at UFC 264 and he’s ready to go. Makhachev needs a step up and it would be perfect for him to fight a former champion. The fight would say a lot about both men. It would tell us whether or not RDA is still a title contender and it would tell us whether Islam Makhachev is ready for a title shot.

I believe we are looking at a situation where the UFC will likely have Makhachev get at least two more wins before a title shot. If he gets a win over RDA, expect the promotion to push him straight into a title eliminator with one of the top guys.

After winning his seventh in a row at UFC 262, what’s next for Beneil Dariush?

This past Saturday at UFC 262, Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) took on Tony Ferguson (25-6) in the co-main event of the evening. Dariush carried in a six-fight win streak and he finally got his shot against a big time opponent in the former interim lightweight champion.

Beneil Dariush has been flying under the radar over the last couple of years. He had a couple of tough losses in the UFC, but he’s really been turning things around and he’s starting to open some eyes in the lightweight division.

With that said, Saturday was going to be a big test. He was fighting a man who is loved by fans and was long considered to be the boogey man of the lightweight division. El Cucuy is no pushover even at this stage of his career.

Heading into UFC 262, I picked Dariush to win the fight. I just thought that if he stuck to his pressure and grappling, he’d be able to beat Tony Ferguson. Well, that’s exactly what Dariush did on Saturday night.

From the opening bell at UFC 262, Dariush was on Tony Ferguson. Ferguson had no room to breathe and he had no answer for Dariush’s grappling. In the end it was a clean sweep on the scorecards and a statement win for Beneil Dariush.

What’s next after UFC 262?

The UFC rankings came out today and Dariush climbed all the way to third. In doing this, he jumped over top lightweight contenders Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler. I can’t say I agree with the rankings, but Dariush has earned some shine.

While Dariush is squarely in the UFC’s top five, he’s not going to be in the conversations for the next title shot. In fact, I don’t even think he’s going to be in the conversation for a title eliminator next.

Dariush said he wanted to take a little time off to enjoy the birth of his daughter in a few weeks. When he’s ready to make his UFC return, there’s one opponent that I think lines up perfectly for him.

I think the promotion should look at booking Dariush with former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). RDA made his return to lightweight last year and he would provide a big test for Dariush.

Stylistically, I think this would be a great matchup and it would build momentum for the winner. One other potential opponent to keep an eye on is Islam Makhachev (19-1). Makhachev takes on Thiago Moises in July and if he wins, I could see the UFC trying to move him up quickly against a top five guy. Dariush would fit the bill there.

Dan Hooker likes RDA for his UFC return

Earlier this year at UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) had a massive opportunity on the sport’s biggest stage. In the co-main event on a card headlined by the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, Hooker was tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler to the UFC.

Hooker entered the contest as a betting favorite. Entering UFC 257, the only two men to have defeated Hooker at lightweight were Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. The fight with Poirier was an absolute war and Hooker won the first two rounds of that fight.

If Hooker was able to get the win over Chandler, it would have put him right in the title conversation. However, UFC 257 ended with the worst case scenario for Dan Hooker. Chandler landed a massive left in the first round and finished The Hangman.

Since then, Hooker has been laying low just getting back into training. Now that it’s been a few months, Hooker is getting that itch to fight. While he hasn’t been offered a fight by the UFC yet, Hooker told Submission Radio that he has an opponent in mind.

Former UFC champ

“When it comes to fights that make sense, I like the RDA fight. Former champ. I respect his skillset and I respect the way he carries himself. I think that’s a fight that makes sense,” Hooker told Submission Radio.

In reality, this is a perfect matchup for the UFC. Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) made his lightweight return last November. The former UFC lightweight champion returned to the division after spending the last few years at welterweight.

RDA won a decision over Paul Felder (17-6) in his return. Currently, Dos Anjos is ranked seventh and Hooker is ranked eighth in the lightweight division. Given their styles and their spot in the rankings, this would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC.

Another potential matchup would be a rematch with Paul Felder. Hooker and Felder had a war in early 2020 that ended with a split decision win for Hooker. I don’t think any fan would be opposed to the two of them running it back.

What’s next for Beneil Dariush after UFC Vegas 18?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 18, Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) took on Diego Ferreira (17-3) for the second time. The two had previously met back in 2014 and Dariush handed Ferreira his first career loss at UFC 179.

Both men were carrying in five-plus fight winning streaks into Saturday night. Ferreira has improved so much from their first matchup, but there were a lot of questions around his inactivity and if he could deal with Dariush’s style.

The fight on Saturday was very similar to their matchup at UFC 179. Dariush was able to land several takedowns and control the majority of the fight on the ground. However, there were some spots where Ferreira did have some success.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Dariush walked away with the split decision. Although, I don’t think anyone outside of those judges believes that this fight at UFC Vegas 18 was all that close. Dariush picked up his sixth straight victory on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

After the fight was over, Dariush made it clear that he wants someone in the UFC’s top five. Originally, Dariush was supposed to fight Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) in October. However, Oliveira had to pull out of that matchup.

Dariush expressed his frustrations with Oliveira last week. While he’s likely not going to face Oliveira next, there are some top contenders out there for Beneil Dariush. Dariush is now ranked ninth in the lightweight division. 

A couple of options for Dariush are the two guys right in front of him. Dan Hooker (20-10) and Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) both need opponents. In an ideal world, Dariush would get to face the former UFC lightweight champion, Dos Anjos, next.

However, Dan Hooker might be the more logical opponent. Hooker is coming off of back-to-back losses, but he’s got the name recognition that Dariush needs. Dariush needs a win in the UFC over someone with pop in their name. Pickup a win over Hooker and he’ll get a bump.

Another potential name could be Tony Ferguson (25-5), however, I don’t see that one happening either. No matter what, Dariush needs an opponent ranked above him next. He deserves that opportunity.

UFC: Rafael Dos Anjos believes he’s a nightmare for Conor McGregor

The year is 2016 and Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) is the UFC‘s lightweight champion. RDA was 10-1 in his last eleven fights on his way to capturing the lightweight title. He was looked at as one of the very best in the sport.

Dos Anjos was set to headline UFC 196 against the featherweight champion, Conor McGregor (22-5). McGregor had just knocked out Jose Aldo in 14 seconds to become the undisputed champion. He immediately wanted to move up in weight to become a two-division champion.

The UFC booked the fight and the superfight was set. However, the superfight never came to be. As the story goes, RDA ended up injured and some guy named Nate Diaz (20-12) took his place. Diaz went on to defeat Conor McGregor and the two rematched in August.

With those two tied up, RDA recovered and ended up fighting Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title. Alvarez stopped Dos Anjos and became the UFC lightweight champion. McGregor then knocked out Alvarez to win the title. RDA would go on to lose a second straight fight before moving up to welterweight for the last few years.

Now, RDA has returned to the UFC‘s lightweight division. It’s been a few years, but he still wants that fight with Conor McGregor. McGregor is fresh off of a loss at UFC 257 to Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). McGregor is ranked sixth while RDA is ranked seventh in the division. Could this fight finally happen?

Will UFC 196’s original main event finally happen?

Dos Anjos had an interview with MMA Junkie this week where he talked about the potential matchup. It’s a fight that RDA would like the UFC to put together and he still believes that he is a nightmare matchup for Conor McGregor.

“I’m a very bad matchup for Conor,” RDA told MMA Junkie. “My style, my kicks, southpaw stance, my wrestling, and my grappling. This has passed, but with the results of his last fight, I believe our paths can cross again.”

McGregor has come out and said that he wants the trilogy with Poirier next. The UFC is still going back and forth about what they want to do. If McGregor wants to get back in there for the sake of competition, RDA would be a good opponent for him.

Obviously, there’s history between the two men. This is a fight that we never got to see as fight fans and it’s a very intriguing matchup on paper. From a rankings perspective, it’s actually the one fight for McGregor that makes the most sense. Will be interesting to see how the UFC proceeds.

What’s next for Rafael Dos Anjos after UFC Vegas 14?

A lot of praise is being thrown at Paul Felder (17-6) after UFC Vegas 14. The Irish Dragon stepped up on short notice to take on Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) to save the main event from being scrapped.

While Felder should get a ton of praise, the former UFC lightweight champion should also get some praise. It’s a dangerous thing to take a fight on five days’ notice against an opponent who’s completely different from the opponent you were fighting.

Islam Makhachev is known for his great wrestling. Dos Anjos was prepping for a UFC main event where he’d have to be grappling the majority of the time. Instead, he had to switch to prepare for an elite striker like Paul Felder.

It was a gamble, but it paid off. The former UFC champion used his wrestling and grappling to get the better of Felder over the course of five rounds. In doing so, Dos Anjos made a successful return to the lightweight division.

After struggling with weight cuts a few years ago, RDA decided to move up to welterweight. After initial success, Dos Anjos struggled with the bigger guys at the top of the division. Dos Anjos went 1-4 in his last five which prompted the move back down to lightweight.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 14?

Saturday night was a big first step for the former UFC champion. It wasn’t just about getting the win, but it was about making the weight and not having it impact his cardio. RDA looked great over the course of a grueling five round war.

After the win, Dos Anjos called for a fight with Conor McGregor since they were the only two previous undisputed lightweight champions in the division. McGregor responded saying he was in after he defeats Dustin Poirier.

However, I don’t think RDA is going to go right to the top just yet. I think the UFC will try to give him another matchup against a top contender before getting someone like Conor McGregor.

If I was playing match maker, I think a great fight would be RDA and Charles Oliveira (29-8, 1 NC). Oliveira is currently ranked sixth in the UFC‘s lightweight division and he’s won seven in a row. The winner of that fight would vault right to the top of the lightweight division.

Paul Felder not going anywhere after UFC Vegas 14

Throughout 2020, fight fans didn’t know if they’d see Paul Felder in the UFC outside of the commentator’s booth. Back in February after he lost to Dan Hooker, Felder hinted that he would probably retire from the sport.

However, Felder never fully closed the door. Less than a week before UFC Vegas 14, one of the headliners in the lightweight division fell out. The UFC was forced to scramble for a last minute opponent for Rafael Dos Anjos.

RDA was making his lightweight return after spending a few years in the welterweight division. The UFC wanted a ranked opponent for his return and Felder was on tap to commentate the fights.

The UFC called upon Felder, and the Irish Dragon took the fight on five days notice. He didn’t ask for a catchweight and he also said he would be willing to go the full 25 minutes despite not having any camp.

The lack of MMA training hurt Felder in the grappling during the fight. RDA’s takedowns and ground control ended up giving him the win, but Felder was incredibly impressive. He looked very sharp and fast on his feet.

Felder took a bunch of good shots of his own, but he busted RDA up on the feet. He outstruck the former UFC champion despite having no camp. After the fight, Felder addressed the fans letting them know that he wasn’t going anywhere.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 14?

“I have not stepped foot into an MMA gym in four months. But I can tell you guys with certainty, I’m not going anywhere right now. I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad, but I’m not done,” Felder told Michael Bisping in his post-fight interview.

Felder saved the day for the UFC and it looks like he found his passion for the sport all in one evening. That is great news for the promotion as Felder is one of the more exciting fighters in the lightweight division.

So the big question is, what’s next for Paul Felder? I think the UFC doesn’t have to look too far around the rankings to find some good potential matchups. I think the promotion could book him against either Diego Ferreira or Al Iaquinta.

Personally, I lean a little towards booking him against Al Iaquinta. That would be a very fun matchup for the fans and both men are coming off of back-to-back losses. However, both are still inside the UFC‘s top ten at lightweight.

Time will tell what the promotion does next with Felder, but it’s nice to know that we will be seeing the Irish Dragon back inside the octagon.

Rafael Dos Anjos wins grueling fight against Paul Felder at UFC Vegas 14

Tonight the UFC returned for their 14th fight night inside the APEX. In the main event of the evening, there was a lightweight matchup between former champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13), and The Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5).

It’s been a wild ride on how we got to this UFC main event. Last week at this time, fight fans thought they were going to see RDA take on Islam Makhachev. However, staff infection pulled Makhachev out of the anticipated main event.

The UFC looked around for a replacement and found a quality one at the commentators booth. Paul Felder was expected to be the color commentator for tonight’s fights. Instead, the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC found himself in the main event.

Opening Rounds

As the fight underway, Felder looked very sharp in the striking. Felder was doing a good job of landing kicks up the middle and straight shots. RDA had his moments as well, but Felder was getting the better of the exchanges.

Two minutes into the first round, Dos Anjos shot in and landed his first takedown. Felder did a good job of working his way back to the fence and getting back up. Once back on their feet, RDA was doing much better popping Felder with straight lefts.

Competitive first round, but it should go to RDA. As the second round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, RDA continued to pop Felder with shots up the middle. A minute into the round and Felder started opening up with powerful kicks.

Just as Felder started to land, Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown. However, Felder did a good job of defending. Once they separated, both men started trading big shots. RDA then shot in and landed a takedown with two minutes left in the round.

Middle Rounds

The former UFC champion was able to control Felder the rest of the round to take a 2-0 lead. As the third round got underway, Felder continued to look for low kicks. The opening 30 seconds were all Felder which caused RDA to shoot for a takedown.

Felder defended extremely well and kept the fight standing. As soon as RDA got close, Felder initiated the clinch and pushed Dos Anjos against the fence. However, RDA used it to shoot in for a takedown which he landed.

RDA came close to getting Felder’s back, but Felder forced a scramble to get the fight back to the feet. After a brief exchange, Dos Anjos shot in for another takedown. Dos Anjos was able to slam Felder down to the ground and sealed the third round for him.

Felder opened the fourth strong knowing he needed to finish the former UFC champion. RDA started landing decent shots, but he was continuing to look for the takedown. However, Felder was doing a good job of holding the center.

Felder was landing some good shots, but a RDA shot found Felder once again against the fence. Felder did a good job of staying on his feet and he even reversed the position. However, he wasn’t able to separate until there was about a minute left in the round.

In the final minute, Felder really started to open up his striking. Just as Felder was landing some good shots, he shot for a takedown and landed. RDA got back up, but it was a much better round for the Irish Dragon.

RDA’s successful return at UFC Vegas 14

As the final round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, Felder knew that it was all or nothing. Felder opened with a beautiful 1-2, but RDA countered with a good body kick.

Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown, but Felder defended well. However, after a brief separation, RDA shot in and landed the takedown. Dos Anjos was looking for the submission when he was on top in the final round.

However, Felder was doing a decent job of defending. Despite that, Dos Anjos was doing a good job of holding him down. With a minute left in the fight, Felder was able to work his way back up to his feet.

However, the former UFC champion was able to get him right back down. Felder displayed an incredible amount of heart, but RDA was too efficient and strong throughout all five rounds.

Rafael Dos Anjos defeats Paul Felder by Split Decision (50-45, 50-45, 47-48)

UFC Vegas 14 Preview: Paul Felder – Rafael Dos Anjos

It’s been a crazy leadup to UFC Vegas 14 which goes down tomorrow night. Initially, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13) was set to take on rising prospect, Islam Makhachev, in the main event tomorrow night.

However, staff infection pulled Makhachev out of the fight. The UFC searched for a replacement and landed on one who was set to be the color commentator tomorrow night. That man is the Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5).

Felder will enter the octagon tomorrow night for the first time since his split decision loss to Dan Hooker in February. He’s currently ranked 7th in the UFC‘s lightweight division. However, he’s coming into this fight with virtually no camp.

Felder had been training for a triathlon before accepting the fight. His weight was manageable, and he felt that he was in good enough cardio shape to accept the fight which is how he ended up headlining the card tomorrow night.

He gets the chance now to face a former UFC champion in Rafael Dos Anjos. RDA comes into this fight just 1-4 in his last five fights. He’s dropping back down to lightweight after he spent the last three years at welterweight.

RDA’s journey at welterweight started out great with three straight victories. However, then he ran into the elites of the division like Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, and Leon Edwards. Now, RDA is returning to the division that made him a UFC champion.

UFC Vegas 14 Prediction

This is such a tough matchup to pick. Given all the circumstances, one would think that the former UFC lightweight champion has the big advantage. It’s a five round main event, and RDA has been preparing for that.

Meanwhile, Felder was preparing to commentate just a week ago. However, Felder does have the skillset to really make this fight interesting. RDA does really well when he’s the guy who puts on the striking pressure.

He does extremely well when he moves forward, but he struggles off of his back foot. Felder is the kind of guy who’s going to come right out and put pressure on RDA. He does a fantastic job of checking leg kicks which could be key in this matchup.

On a full camp, I would really lean towards Felder over the former UFC champion. However, I just don’t know how sharp we are going to see Felder with no camp. I know he’s been training and he’s been hitting pads.

However, that doesn’t translate to live MMA training. You have to respect Felder for stepping up for the UFC. There aren’t many that would do it. However, with a full camp and seemingly extremely motivated, I’m leaning slightly towards RDA to squeak this one out. But, it will be close.

Prediction: Rafael Dos Anjos by Split Decision