(The first guy to show any form of emotion has to buy dinner. / Props: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Instagram)
It’s funny how life works out sometimes. You accept a fight against “the Russian,” thinking you’ve been offered a match against the UFC’s undefeated Dagestani phenom, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Instead, you find out you’ll actually be facing Rustam Khabilov, a still-dangerous but slightly-less-established Russian. Disappointment washes over you. But then, Khabilov suffers an undisclosed injury and you get to fight the Russian you thought you were going to fight in he first place. Hollywood couldn’t write it any better.
That inspirational story has just played out in the life of Rafael Dos Anjos, who was originally slated to fight Khabilov at UFC 170, and will now be fighting Nurmagomedov at the increasingly-stacked UFC on FOX 11: Werdum vs. Browne (April 19, Orlando). UFC officials confirmed the booking yesterday. Dos Anjos has won his last five fights, most recently a unanimous decision win against Donald Cerrone in August. Nurmagomedov has won his last 21 (!) fights, and has been inactive since September as other top UFC lightweights tried to justify why they weren’t fighting him. Dos Anjos may not have been on Nurmagomedov’s 2014 to-do list, but in the absence of any other options, this is a pretty solid matchup.
In addition to the heavyweight headliner, Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche, and Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza, UFC on FOX 11 will also feature a middleweight battle between the streaking Brad Tavares and Cuban knockout machine Yoel Romero, and a lightweight meeting between Pat Healy (aka, the last guy Nurmagomedov beat) and Jorge Masvidal (aka, the last guy Khabilov beat). If you’ve got predictions, fire away.