Feared Chechen sensation fires warning to UFC rivals
Khamzat Chimaev has yet to find his equal in the UFC cage and appears to have extended out challenges to fighters in two separate weight classes as the Chechen-born star plots his next move in his bid to become a world champion.
Chimaev recently made light work of American fighter Kevin Holland in a hastily arranged fight as a result of him dramatically missing weight ahead of a proposed welterweight main event with UFC icon Nate Diaz earlier this month.
However, his error on the weighing scales has led to speculation that Chimaev’s time in the welterweight division might be coming to an end if he continues to struggle to make 170lbs weight limit.
Chimaev, though, has significant experience at middleweight, and even made his debut for the UFC in the 185lbs ranks against Welsh brawler John Phillips in Abu Dhabi a couple of summers ago – and judging by his latest blast on social media, it is a division he feels very much at home in.
The Chechen star had appeared to be on a clear path to a welterweight title shot in the UFC but this has been complicated by both his inability to make weight this month, as well as Leon Edwards’ underdog win against former champion Kamaru Usman – a fight which will likely lead to a trilogy bout between the two with scores currently tied at one apiece.
However, any move into the upper echelon of the middleweight fold will also present its own challenges – not least of which is the champion, Israel Adesanya, who remains undefeated at the weight class throughout his career.
But one potential entry point to the middleweight class could be the Brazilian former title challenger Paulo Costa, the man who became embroiled in a heated confrontation with Chimaev at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Costa has since taken credit, he said in an interview with MMA insider Ariel Helwani, for being the reason for Chimaev’s struggles on the scale, insisting that ’Borz’ became so distracted by their tense exchange that he lost all focus ahead of his scheduled fight with Diaz.
Of course, another potential option for Chimaev would be a top contender bout at welterweight against UFC firebrand Colby Covington; one of the only fighters on the roster presumed to have the necessary grappling chops to compete with Chimaev on the mat.
But whatever his next move turns out to be, and whether it comes at 170lbs or 185lbs, Chimaev has made one thing clear: no one is safe on his path to the gold.