Undefeated UFC welterweight contender, Khamzat Chimaev has claimed that undisputed middleweight champion, Alex Pereira, turned down a fight with him before inking terms to rematch former titleholder, Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 next month in Miami, Florida.
Chimaev, the current #3 ranked welterweight contender, has yet to return to active competition since September of last year, co-headlining UFC 279 against Californian striker, Kevin Holland in a reworked catchweight fight.
Initially scheduled to headline the pay-per-view event against Nate Diaz in a welterweight matchup, Chimaev submitted Holland with a first round D’Arce choke win, having missed weight by seven-and-a-half pounds for his slated bout with Diaz.
Expected to make a middleweight division return for the first time since his UFC debut back in 2020, Chimaev has been touted to fight contenders within the division’s top-3 by UFC leader, Dana White.
Khamzat Chimaev eyes July return to the UFC at potential Sweden event
Claiming he had signed bout agreements to fight former interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington – as well as former middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker since his win over Holland, Chimaev also claimed middleweight kingpin, Pereira rejected a December turnaround to defend his title against him.
“I was told it [the fight was] for the belt,” Khamzat Chimaev said of a UFC 282 fight with Alex Pereira during an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Then UFC say – I speak with Sean Shelby only about that fight [with Alex Pereira]. Sean Shelby says first, ‘Yes, brother – let’s try it.’ And then a day later he says, ‘No, brother, we’ll first fight Colby (Covington)’ And I said ok.”
“And then the guy [Pereira] said I said we should fight at 205 [pounds],” Khamzat Chimaev explained. “The UFC doesn’t want to see you fight [at light heavyweight yet], you only took the belt [at middleweight] and now you wanna go up and fight for a different weight class and no belt? I am 170 and he is 185 – we fight like 205? It makes sense? I don’t know. That’s why UFC maybe didn’t call me about that fight. I don’t know – I was ready to fight in Brazil, at a different weight class, which weight class he wants. It’s the most easy (sic) fight for me in the UFC.”