If Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Islam Makhachev, Rafael dos Anjos claims Khabib Nurmagomedov will come out of retirement to fight him.
Dos Anjos tweeted, “I just heard back from the UFC that Islam accepted to fight me Oct 30, 5 rounds in Abu Dhabi and Khabib agreed to come out of retirement to avenge his brother’s loss after that”. Many consider Makhachev to be a future champion, and Khabib considers the Dagestani to be a close buddy, training partner, and disciple.
On Saturday night, he submitted Thiago Moises in the fourth round and has since ascended to No. 5 in the lightweight rankings. The match between the wrestling legend and Dos Anjos, who is now ranked No. 7, was set twice but was cancelled on both times. Before agreeing a third time, Dos Anjos wrote that he would only sign if he could fight Khabib as a prize if he won. And now, the 36-year-old claims that preparations for a fight with Makhachev on Fight Island in October are complete.
It’s unclear whether Khabib gave the go-ahead in the hopes of Makhachev putting Dos Anjos to the sword. After defeating Justin Gaethje, the Russian retired at the age of 32, having attained the pound-for-pound No. 1 place. He dramatically retired just weeks after his father Abdulmanap died of Covid-19-related problems. Khabib also promised his mum that he would not fight without his father by his side.
Dana White tried for months to persuade the grappling sensation to return, but to no success, so Dos Anjos’ statement will have pricked his ears. Fighters in their prime rarely retire for long periods of time, but Khabib is a man of principle, so it would be surprising to see him return, especially after promoting Makhachev as his heir. The 29-year-old possesses a smothering approach that is comparable to Khabib’s, but with more polished striking, and it just seems a matter of time before he steps out from under Khabib’s shadow. It will be interesting to see if Dos Anjos’ allegation is correct.