Khamzat Chimaev is the highest-ranked welterweight fighter that champion Kamaru Usman hasn’t beaten and wants to stay active while he waits for Leon Edwards to get his shot
Chimaev is the No.3-ranked welterweight contender in the promotion and is the highest-ranked fighter that champion Kamaru Usman hasn’t already beaten. But he will have to wait his turn for a shot at the belt as Leon Edwards gets his world title rematch against the Nigerian on August 20.
The Swede may even want to get on the undercard of that event, indicating that he wants to face fan-favourite Diaz in August before taking on the No.5 contender Muhammad just over two months later. He and Muhammad have already verbally agreed to meet at UFC 281 in Abu Dhabi on October 22, and Chimaev would like to sneak in one more fight in the meantime.
“I want to fight in august, I’m ready Nate Diaz, let’s do it skinny boy,” Chimaev said in a tweet yesterday that tagged the UFC and boss Dana White. He then posted that he plans to fight Diaz in August and Muhammad in October.
Diaz appeared to indicate that he isn’t interested in fighting Chimaev in a deleted tweet yesterday, although he didn’t address the fighter by name. He tweeted, “Sorry b**** a** n****, I’m 4-0 on you I don’t to rematches for this company anymore.”
The American could be referencing the many times he claims to have asked to fight Chimaev, as the pair have on a number of occasions been offered bouts with one another. But Diaz has turned down the Swede at multiple points as well, so it’s unclear what he meant.
Chimaev initially rose to fame due to his remarkable activity, agreeing to face former BAMMA champion Rhys McKee at a 15lb lower weight division on just a week’s notice after beating another ex-BAMMA champion on his debut against John Phillips. But after a 17-second KO of Gerald Meerschaert in September of 2020, an illness almost cost him his career.
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He returned over a year later at UFC 267 last October, making light work of Li Jingliang within a round and setting up a showdown with the former world title challenger Gilbert Burns. He was given the first real test of his career by the Brazilian, struggling to a unanimous decision victory.
And he is now looking to return to the activity that saw his star rise at a rapid pace back in 2020 by taking on two major stars in Diaz and Muhammad. Diaz is one of the most famous fighters in the world, but likely would find a bout against Chimaev difficult to manoeuvre.
Meanwhile, Muhammad would be a fascinating opponent, given his recent run of form and impressive ranking position. Wins over both men would see Chimaev almost certainly book a title opportunity against the winner of Usman vs Edwards 2.