Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker believes Khamzat Chimaev is a rough matchup for Colby Covington.

In the aftermath of UFC 280, Dana White appeared to heavily hint that a No.1 contender clash at 170lbs between Khamzat Chimaev and Colby Covington in early 2023.

In a recent interview with Submission Radio, Robert Whittaker, who is currently preparing to face Paulo Costa, discussed the matchup between Chimaev and Covington. ‘The Reaper’ was all for the fight in terms of the fight build-up, with both men notorious trash talkers. He stated:

“Media-wise, I think it’ll be a spectacle. Yeah, expect the full circus. And that’ll be fun in itself. Those things, whilst I don’t like prioritizing them in a sport, as a sportsman and as someone in the industry, for the sport and for the UFC as a whole, having those characters, those personalities and things, it just brings eyes. It’s just great for all the other athletes. You know, within reason.”

However, when discussing how the two men square up, skill for skill, Whittaker claims there is one clear favorite in this fight:

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Now, stylistically, fight-wise, I think that’s a terrible fight for Colby. Terrible. Because you saw with Usman that anyone Colby can’t just relentlessly spam takedowns on, it becomes a kickboxing fight and a striking match. And I think Covington’s great at what he does, but he’s not a kickboxer, he’s not a striker by trade. That doesn’t come naturally to him.

“His pressure style and wrestling style is what comes naturally to him. Khamzat can counter-wrestle Colby. He’s a big dude with long range and a lot of reach, and his striking is nothing ridiculously crazy, but it’s put together at a high level. And he integrates that with the threat of his wrestling and grappling takedowns stupendously. So, I think Khamzat for Colby is a bad match-up.”

Robert Whittaker on whether Colby Covington would fare better over 5 rounds

One of Colby Covington’s most effective weapons has always been his incredible cardio. As a result, some might believe ‘Chaos’ would fare considerably better if the fight with Chimaev were over five rounds instead of three.

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Not Robert Whittaker though, who is confident Khamzat defeats Covington regardless.

“I think that’s due to the fact that it’s more about the people he’s fighting. Like, he’s a smart guy. And his fight IQ is very high. You can see that, regardless of how he portrays himself, he’s a smart guy when he’s in there. And so he knows who he can unload on and pull the trigger and who he cannot. I would back Khamzat for sure. I think it’s a bad match-up for Colby.”

Do you agree with Robert Whittaker?

Combat sports journalist based out of the UK. Follow @frankbonada on Twitter for all things MMA and Boxing.