Dominance MMA Management president and manager of Islam Makhachev, Ali Abdelaziz, believes that the UFC lightweight could fight either Rafael dos Anjos or Tony Ferguson next.
Both RDA and Tony Ferguson are former title holders in the lightweight division of the UFC. While Rafael dos Anjos was the undisputed UFC lightweight champion in 2015-16, Tony Ferguson won the interim UFC lightweight title in October 2017. However, 'El Cucuy' was stripped of the interim strap due to injury.
For now, Islam Makhachev already has an opponent to look forward to on July 17 as he faces Thiago Moises at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises.
Why is a bout with Tony Ferguson extra special for Islam Makhachev?
Tony Ferguson shares a long history with Islam Makhachev's longtime training partner and friend, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov was a bout that fight fans wanted to watch at all costs. However, as luck would have it, the fight was canceled all five times that it was booked. The reasons for the cancelations ranged from injuries and botched weight-cuts to the global pandemic in 2020.
Islam Makhachev has stated that he wants to fight Tony Ferguson on behalf of his Dagestani brother and settle the score once and for all. Makhachev revealed this during a conversation with ESPN's Bret Okamoto in March 2021.
Summarizing the conversation on Twitter, Bret Okamoto wrote:
"Islam Makhachev told me the fight he wants most is Tony Ferguson, because of the history there between Tony and Khabib. Khabib told me that's the fight he wants most for Islam as well. Timeframe for Islam to fight again as of now is July."
A fight between Islam Makhachev and Tony Ferguson would definitely have the makings of a blockbuster, given the deep-rooted storyline that can evolve around it.
Tony Ferguson is currently on a three-fight skid and is looking to get back into the winning side. His last fight took place against another member of Dominace MMA's roster, Beneil Dariush.
While a fight between Islam Makhachev and Tony Ferguson does promise fireworks, Ferguson has been unable to hold his own on the ground lately. This was something he was exceptional at while adding names to his historic 12-fight win streak.
Islam Makhachev is a beast on the ground, much like Khabib Nurmagomedov. Therefore, if a fight between the two does take place, Ferguson will need to bring his A-game to ward off the surging force of Islam Makhachev.