Rafael dos Anjos, the UFC’s reigning lightweight champion, is out of his super fight against featherweight champion, Conor McGregor, at UFC 196.
Sources reported that dos Anjos suffered a foot injury last week, forcing him out of the much-anticipated bout.
MMA reporter Ariel Helwani said the decision to step down from the fight was hard for Rafael, who “badly wanted to stay on the card.”
The cancellation will also certainly be a huge loss for Conor, who was hoping to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time.
This is not the first time Conor McGregor has had to deal with a late line-up change, though. In his first scheduled match against then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 189, Aldo was forced to step down from the fight due to an injury.
Chad Mendes stepped in but suffered a TKO loss in the second round, earning McGregor the interim featherweight championship.
Conor would go on to win the featherweight championship at UFC 194 via an early knockout over Aldo.
MMA fans everywhere are almost certainly disappointed about Rafael dos Anjos stepping out of UFC 196.
As usual, Conor used heavy doses of trash talking to build up the hype for his match against dos Anjos. McGregor called Rafael a “traitor,” because the Brazilian-born lightweight champion lives in California. Conor also promised Brazilian MMA fans that he would “behead the ‘American Gringo’ Rafael Dos Anjos, in the name of La Brasilia!”
However, there may be some silver lining to this unfortunate turn of events. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone has offered his services as a replacement for dos Anjos.
Although “Cowboy” is coming off of a submission win he achieved only two days ago over Alex Oliveira, the honky-tonk lightweight said he would have no problem stepping in for the injured dos Anjos, according to UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler.
Helwani confirmed Cerrone is interested in the fight.
Donald Cerrone has had his own run-ins with McGregor.
At UFC’s BIG GO press conference back in September (linked below), the Irishman and the “Cowboy” traded their respective verbal jabs.
Cerrone claimed Conor had no right coming up to the lightweight division, insisting they were “too big” and “too strong” for him. Donald also made fun of Conor by calling him “English.”
Conor fired back, claiming the division was “too slow” and “stuck in the mud.”
“You’re stiff as a board! I’d snap you in half!”
Cerrone insisted that the Dubliner’s trash talking was all just an act and that Conor had nothing to say when Cerrone and the other fighters were standing out back.
Donald did, however, compliment McGregor on his ability to sell fights, but he issued the featherweight a stern warning should he dare come up to lightweight.
“It’s good, he sells the fights, but if he comes to 155 I’m going to bend his little a** over and knock the f***ing ‘Lucky Charms’ out of him.”
UFC 196 is still set to go down as scheduled on March 5. The event will feature a women’s bantamweight championship match between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate as the co-main event.
Neither Conor McGregor nor Rafael dos Anjos have given an official statement on the match change-up yet.
[Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]