UFC had originally booked a fight between Khabib’s teammate Islam Makhachev against Rafael Dos Anjos at the UFC 254 Card but was removed due to Dos Anjos testing positive. It was then rescheduled to the main event to UFC FN 183 on November 14, 2020. The bout was again canceled with Islam pulling out due to an infection.
Injuries and illnesses is part of the game, and there is nothing we can do. My apologies to all fans and supporters around the world who’s been waiting for this fight. I’ll be back soon 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/bpcxkfSJpK— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) November 10, 2020
Rafael Dos Anjos then tried looking for a replacement fighter in which he called out the newly signed former Bellator fighter Michael Chandler, who was also the backup fighter for Khabib vs Gaethje. He didn’t fight because both fighters made weight. so that means his body does not need for recovery. Michael Chandler eventually turned down the short notice fight as he was promised a top 5 contender fight.
There were a few fighters who tried to step up on short notice against Dos Anjos. Fighters like Santiago Ponzinibbio who has not fought for almost 2 years, Luis Peña, and many others. The UFC officially decided Paul Felder to step in as the late replacement which makes the most sense. He is a top 10 ranked LW fighter who just lost to Dan Hooker via split decision, then was just thinking of retirement but loves the game too much.
The stylistic matchup between Dos Anjos and Felder is a guaranteed banger. Paul Felder is known to have shown heart and will during fights. His stand up game is one of the most entertaining styles in the business. Dos Anjos is known to be a veteran and a legend in the division, beating the likes of Cerrone, Pettis, and many others. Dos Anjos is known to put up the pressure in fighting and if he fights smart he might try to grapple with Felder a bit and then finish with a TKO or submission. Felder’s chance, in my opinion, would be getting or baiting RDA to a flash knockout. I would decrease my chances with Felder since he is taking this fight on short notice.
With Khabib retiring, the lightweight crown is up for grabs. Who will be the newly crowned champion? The lightweight division is one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC right now. The top 5 itself is championship-caliber fighters. With an unsuccessful title run in the welterweight division, the former lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos has decided to return to the lightweight division in an attempt to create a title run again. Mcgregor vs Poirier is officially booked in January leaving a few fighters like Tony, Gaethje, and Chandler with no fight scheduled as of this moment. The future of the lightweight division is exciting and Dana has had talks where Khabib might return to get the 30-0 record.
Meanwhile, Islam has trouble finding opponents in the division finally had an opponent willing to fight him but Dos Anjos pulled out the first time and Islam pulled out the second time. Dos Anjos is one of the known fighters who never dodge dangerous fights. He has fought top opponents like Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Tony Ferguson, and even Khabib Nurmagomedov. To some of the top contenders, fighting Islam is a high risk, low reward type of fight since if they beat him their rank remains the same but if they lose Islam overtakes them. Khabib fans also await the UFC announcement regarding future fights for Islam.