Ahead of an rumored middleweight move for undefeated uber-prospect, Khamzat Chimaev, the AllStars MMA staple has opened as neither a betting favorite nor underdog against former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker – with markets currently offering pick ‘em money on both. 

Boasting an undefeated 12-0 professional record, former Brave CF contender, Chimaev most recently co-headlined UFC 279 back in September of last year against Kevin Holland – securing his sixth Octagon victory with a dominant, opening round D’Arce choke victory.

Chimaev was initially scheduled to headline the pay-per-view event against former lightweight title challenger, Nate Diaz in his first flagship event main event feature for the organization, however, the matchup was shelved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, after Chimaev missed weight by a staggering seven and a half pounds.

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As for Whittaker, the former undisputed middleweight champion has successfully rebounded from his championship rematch loss with former gold holder, Israel Adesanya back in February of last year – retaining his top-contender status with an eye-catching decision win over Marvin Vettori at UFC Fight Night Paris in September of last year to boot.

Suffering losses to just Adesanya in his last 15 walks, Whittaker has amassed a 13-2 record combined since June 2014. 

Winning an interim title back in 2017 against Yoel Romero, Whittaker was then promoted to undisputed champion status following the retirement of Georges St-Pierre, before rematching Romero and retaining his title in a close, decision victory.

Beyond his losses to City Kickboxing staple, Adesanya in the last nine years, Whittaker has landed other notable triumphs over Derek Brunson, Ronaldo Souza, Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum, and the aforenoted, Vettori. 

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Linked with an welcoming a fight with the undefeated Chimaev later this year as the duo eye Octagon returns, Whittaker and the former have both opened at -110 in many markets – with little to nothing separating the two at the time of publication. Bovada bonus promo can likely help separate the duo with method of victory offers and outright winners odds. 

Briefly expected to feature on home soil at UFC 284 last month, Whittaker saw a planned fight with Belo Horizonte native and one-time middleweight title challenger, Paulo Costa fall to the wayside as the Brazilian continues to run into contract disputes with the Dana White-led organization.

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Touted as a future title challenger at both the middleweight and welterweight limits, Chimaev has landed other stunning Octagon triumphs over John Philips, Rhys McKee, Gerald Meerschaert, and Li Jingliang – before he was forced the distance against Gilbert Burns in a winning-effort at UFC 273 in April of last year. 

For his exploits at the welterweight limit, Chimaev currently sits as the #3 ranked contender, behind just former interim champion, Colby Covington, and former undisputed best – incoming UFC 286 headliner, Kamaru Usman. 

Losing his number one perch at the middleweight limit following Adesanya’s title loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281 back in November of last year, Whittaker still sits at #2 at 185lbs.

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.