Khamzat Chimaev has had his eyes on the champ-champ status for a while, but those plans have been delayed after Adesanya & Usman’s shocking title losses.
Ever since Khamzat Chimaev made his UFC debut in 2020, he’s almost been destined to fight for a title. And not just one. Chimaev has shown the ability to be a title challenger at both 185 pounds and 170. That’s why, as Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya neared clearing out their respective divisions, Khamzat Chimaev seemed like the right next opponent for both men.
“Before, I was thinking if Kamaru Usman wins his fight, I will fight with him next,” Chimaev said. “But he lost. And I was thinking if Adesanya won his fight, who’s he going to fight? There’s only me. And he lost as well. Now (Pereira and Adesanya) want to rematch in March; I don’t know what they’re going to do.” (H/T by MMA Nytt).
Khamzat Chimaev looks to take over the 185 and 170-pound divisions in 2023
But one thing that hasn’t changed is Chimaev’s confidence. From the get-go, Chimaev has called for a title shot and has been nearing UFC gold with each subsequent victory. If it wasn’t for his weight-cut blunder against Nathan Diaz, his title picture odds would have been much clearer. But, now that it’s unsure he can make 170, he has to fight another contender before becoming the number one contender.
That doesn’t seem like a big deal to Chimaev who not only wants to fight Colby Covington in the coming months but wants to go up to 185 and immediately challenge the new champ.
“So I said to Sean Shelby and Dana (White) as well: I’m ready for Pereira in Brazil. Directly after that, March, if Colby wants to fight, I’d take my title and I’d go down to 170 and fight Colby as well.”
But Khamzat Chimaev’s middleweight title hopes largely depend on what Israel Adesanya wishes to do next. If Adesanya takes a break from fighting, as he did from kickboxing the last time he was stopped by Pereira, then Chimaev could slide into the title picture at 185.
But, if Adesanya is ready to go for an immediate rematch, then Chimaev will likely have to wait his turn and take on another dangerous contender at 170 after which he could finally get his chance at fighting for the belt.