Former UFC lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos has been struck by injury woes — forcing him to remove himself from proceedings against lightweight rival, Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 on October 30.
dos Anjos, who successfully returned to his lightweight stomping grounds back in November, recently underwent an arthroscopy procedure on meniscus in his knee, with a bout with flu, which required antibiotics to treat, prolonging his rehabilitation process and forcing him from an October bout with Makhachev.
Per Dominance MMA manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who spoke with MMA Junkie reporter, John Morgan, his former client, dos Anjos has been removed from a bout with Makhachev — with the search for a short-notice replacement to keep his current client on the UFC 267 card underway.
Abdelaziz has identified two preferred opponents for his client to meet on short-notice; former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson, as well as City Kickboxing ace, Dan Hooker — who turned in an impressive unanimous decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266 on Saturday.
Speculation began to mount that the pairing between Makhachev and dos Anjos was in jeopardy for a third time, when the former called the latter a “chicken” on social media, alluding to the fact he had suffered another injury. Responding to the grappler, dos Anjos questioned why he would fake an injury, describing his setback as “terrible“.
Making a successful rebound to the lightweight limit in a November headliner last year, dos Anjos met with short-notice replacement, the now-retired, Paul Felder where he managed a one-sided split decision victory after Makhachev was forced from proceedings due to a staph infection.
The two were booked to meet in a main card bout at UFC 254 in October last year as well, until former champion, dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19 — ruling him from the clash.
In the time since, Makhachev has lodged a pair of dominant submission victories over both Drew Dober and American Top Team grappler, Thiago Moises, the second of which came in his headlining bow at UFC Vegas 31 in July.