Islam Makhachev, the man anointed by Khabib Nurmagomedov as his successor in the lightweight division, has been forced to withdraw from Saturday’s scheduled UFC main event against former champ Rafael dos Anjos.
This marks the second time that a fight between the two 155-pound standouts has been canceled after an initial meeting slated for ‘Fight Island’ was called off after dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19.
The UFC have yet to officially confirm the news following an initial report by ESPN, who initially cited several sources close to the situation.
Makhachev has since confirmed the news via his Instagram page, revealing that he contracted a staph infection that has forced him off the card.
The organization are also understood to have made moves to locate a short notice opponent for dos Anjos for this coming Saturday’s fight card which will take place in the UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas – with dos Anjos identifying UFC newcomer, and former Bellator champion, Michael Chandler as his preferred option.
Breaking: Islam Makhachev (@MAKHACHEVMMA) out of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night main event, per sources. UFC looking for a short-notice replacement to face Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) on Saturday.
I wish @MAKHACHEVMMA a speed recovery. Looking for a new partner to dance. Looks like @MikeChandlerMMA is ready to go. Your move!
“I wish @MAKHACHEVMMA a speed recovery,” Dos Anjos wrote on Twitter.
“Looking for a new partner to dance. Looks like @MikeChandlerMMA is ready to go. Your move!“
Somewhat coincidentally, Makhachev also issued a challenge to Chandler on “Fight Island” a month ago after the Brazilian’s coronavirus diagnosis ruled him out of their fight but the potential fight did not come to fruition.
Dos Anjos, meanwhile, is due to compete at lightweight – the division he was once the champion of – after an eight-fight stint at welterweight which saw him take on some of the division’s standout fighters such as Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Leon Edwards.
The falling apart of this weekend’s UFC main event will be a blow to Makhachev, who has been identified by the recently-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov as his successor in the 155lbs division.