UFC boss reveals plans for all-conquering Chechen
UFC president Dana White has revealed his hopes for undefeated Chechen fighter Khamzat Chimaev to compete on a blockbuster fight card in the UK next year.
Speaking on the sidelines of UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on Friday, White was already looking ahead to what next year has in store for the world’s elite MMA promotion.
Notably, White said he wanted to return to England for a huge card which would be topped by a welterweight title fight between British champion Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman – the man Edwards stunned to win the 170lbs belt in August.
Firmly in the welterweight title mix is the undefeated Chimaev, even though the Russian-born fighter failed to make weight for his 170lbs main event showdown with Nate Diaz in September – which scuppered that bout and led to Chimaev facing late replacement Kevin Holland instead.
“Khamzat wants to fight at 170, and I’m going to give him one more opportunity to make the weight,” White told BT Sport in Abu Dhabi.
“I would love to do that fight in England [on the same card as Edwards-Usman].”
Speaking separately to The Mac Life, White responded positively when it was suggested that Chimaev could face American former welterweight title contender Colby Covington in a co-main event on a UK card topped by Edwards and Usman.
“I agree with you. I’ll get it done,” replied White.
Since destroying short-notice opponent Holland in the first round of their meeting at UFC 279 in Las Vegas in September, Chimaev teased a run at 185lbs before specifically training his sights on the brash Covington.
Chimaev’s professional MMA record reads 12-0, including six wins under the UFC banner. His biggest scalp to date was his unanimous decision victory over Brazilian contender Gilbert Burns in an instant classic at UFC 273 back in April.
The 28-year-old Chimaev fights out of Sweden, having moved to the country as a teenager. However, he frequently visits his Chechen homeland and is seen as a friend of local leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
It remains to be seen if that fact would have a bearing on White’s plans for Chimaev to compete on the UK card, considering the current political circumstances and the ban imposed on Russian tennis players at Wimbledon in the summer.
However, a London UFC Fight Night card at O2 Arena was headlined by Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov against local hero Tom Aspinall back in March.