Saturday’s UFC Vegas 14 main event is currently in disarray after Islam Makhachev was forced out of his bout opposite former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
Makhachev had to withdraw late Sunday because of a staph infection that he says has spread throughout his fight team. News of his withdrawal was initially reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
“A lot of time and effort was spent on this fight. I was in peak shape, but as soon as I started to lose weight and the immune system began to weaken, I caught an infection that would incapacitate me for at least a month. In this camp, our team had already encountered this infection more than once and many had to cancel their fights.
“This year was difficult for my career. A lot of fights were canceled, but I promise you I will go to the end to get the belt, no matter what it costs me.”
Rafael dos Anjos calls out Michael Chandler to replace Makhachev
With Makhachev out of the fight, dos Anjos called on former Bellator champion and new UFC signee Michael Chandler to fill the void.
“I wish Makhachev a speedy recovery,” wrote dos Anjos. “Looking for a new partner to dance. Looks like Michael Chandler is ready to go. Your move!”
Chandler, however, didn’t seem interested. He quickly responded to dos Anjos’s callout by saying that he had other plans.
The UFC inked Chandler in September. The initial plan was to have him fight highly regarded lightweight Tony Ferguson on the undercard of UFC 254, which featured Khabib Nurmagomedov putting his lightweight title on the line opposite Justin Gaethje. Chandler and Ferguson would serve as a back-up in case either fighter fell out.
Ferguson didn’t agree to the fight, so Chandler served as the lone back-up to the main event without a fight on the card. His services were ultimately not needed, as Nurmagomedov defeated Gaethje and then promptly retired.
The UFC has still been keen on a Chandler vs. Ferguson bout, so it’s likely that Chandler doesn’t want to fight on Saturday because he believes a bout with Ferguson would be a quicker route to a UFC title shot. Or, if Khabib remains retired, perhaps Chandler’s first UFC bout could be for a title or at least an interim belt.
Still, dos Anjos wasn’t pleased with Chandler’s refusal to fight him on Saturday.
“If you don’t take a fight because you don’t have enough time to drop weight, I get it, but don’t tell me you have other plans,” he wrote.
“I became the champion of the BIGGEST organization fighting everyone they put in front of me. Shame on you.”
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