Dos Anjos announces he will withdraw from UFC 254 due to positive COVID-19 test
Dos Anjos was slated to return to the lightweight division to fight Islam Makhachev on October 24
Michael Chandler is a potential replacement for dos Anjos
Rafael dos Anjos announced on Thursday via Twitter that he won’t be participating at UFC 254 after testing positive for COVID-19. Dos Anjos was slated to take on Islam Makhachev in a lightweight bout on October 24, but the positive test means he will no longer be allowed to fight.
“Life is like those things that we don’t understand now, but that will be revealed in the future. I left the comfort zone in the United States to come to Rio de Janeiro and restart my career. The stay was the best possible, feeling the warmth of my wonderful city, breathing the smell that only the ocean here has, and sharing the joy of the priceless smiles of my people even hidden behind the masks. Being able to be taken care of by the health professionals who are the best in the world and who I trust with my eyes closed, experiencing the training with the best coaches and other professionals who struggle every day to achieve their dreams. I came to rescue my dream of becoming a champion again, and that goal was achieved. Sharing my experiences with the Nova Uniao team and learning many details to improve my game and close the gaps in the future, none of this was in vain. Unfortunately, I will not be able to compete on the 24th. COVID-19 caught me big time and the doctors cut me out. But soon I will be back victorious inside the Octagon! Nothing can take away the blessing that is upon us. God will provide.”
Dos Anjos’ Slated Return to Lightweight Division
The 35-year-old has not been in the octagon since his defeat via unanimous decision to Michael Chiesa at UFC on ESPN+ 24. Dos Anjos spent eight fights in the welterweight division, where he went 4-4. His upcoming fight against Makhachev was slated to be his return to the lightweight division, but it will now have to wait.
Makhachev is 18-1 overall in his MMA career, including a 7-1 mark in UFC. UFC has yet to publicly comment on dos Anjos’ statement, and his replacement for UFC 254 has yet to be announced.
UFC 254 will take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates later this month. Makhachev said on Twitter that he would like to remain on the fight card for UFC 254. The night will feature a headline bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Chandler to Fight Makhachev?
Michael Chandler, a former Bellator champion, is already scheduled to be in Abu Dhabi that night as a backup for Nurmagomedov or Gaethje should either be disqualified before the fight. Makhachev called out Chandler on Twitter shortly after dos Anjos announced his positive test, so a Chandler-Makhachev showdown could make sense as an alternative plan.
Dos Anjos has a 29-13 overall record in UFC, and he was the UFC lightweight champion in 2015 and 2016 before making his aforementioned switch to the welterweight class.
Makhachev has won his last six fights heading into UFC 254, with his most recent win coming over Davi Ramos via unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi in September of last year. Chandler has won back-to-back fights over Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson by knockout. He beat Henderson in the first round at Bellator 243 back on August 7.
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