Justin Gaethje may have found his next UFC lightweight opponent. Gaethje’s manager Ali Abdelaziz was recently addressed by former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Taking to social media, RDA suggested that he’d like to fight Gaethje next.
Ali Abdelaziz had initially sent out a tweet claiming that everyone ranked in the top-five of the UFC lightweight division was "running" from Justin Gaethje. The No. 7-ranked UFC lightweight Rafael dos Anjos responded by noting that he’s willing to fight the No. 2-ranked Gaethje.
This isn’t the first time that Rafael dos Anjos has taken aim at Ali Abdelaziz. The veteran Brazilian fighter had previously revealed that Abdelaziz, his former manager, protected his friend Khabib Nurmagomedov from RDA.
Additionally, RDA took to Twitter last month to express his willingness to fight Justin Gaethje. Meanwhile, Gaethje has been campaigning for another shot at the undisputed UFC lightweight title after coming up short in his unification matchup against Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020.
Nurmagomedov holds a unanimous decision victory over RDA, whom he beat in April 2014. It’s well known that Ali Abdelaziz is close friends with Nurmagomedov and also managed RDA at that time. RDA claims that Abdelaziz prevented him from receiving a rematch in the ensuing years.
Both Nurmagomedov and RDA went on to hold the undisputed UFC lightweight title in the years that followed, but a rematch between them never came to fruition. Nurmagomedov retired from the sport of MMA in October 2020. In March 2021, The Eagle and the UFC came to terms with him vacating the UFC lightweight title.
Rafael dos Anjos is willing to fight Justin Gaethje
Islam Makhachev, another of Ali Abdelaziz’s clients and friends, is regarded as one of the top lightweight up-and-comers right now. Makhachev is a close friend of Khabib Nurmagomedov and trains alongside The Eagle.
Makhachev had previously been booked to face RDA, but their fight fell apart due to RDA contracting COVID-19. RDA has time and again clarified that he has no problem fighting Makhachev.
RDA has added, however, that he’d only take the fight under the condition that he gets a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov after beating Makhachev. RDA’s last fight was a split decision win over Paul Felder at UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Dos Anjos (November 2020).
Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje has maintained the stance that he’d like to fight for the UFC lightweight title at the earliest. Gaethje’s last fight was a second-round submission loss against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 (October 2020).