Khamzat Chimaev has his sights set on the new UFC middleweight champion.
In an interview with ESPN, the undefeated Chimaev stated that he has spoken to the UFC matchmaking team about heading to Brazil to fight 185-pound titleholder Alex Pereira. That potential fight would take place at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 21, and after that, Chimaev said he’s open to an oft-discussed welterweight bout with Colby Covington in March.
“Before, I was thinking if Kamaru Usman wins his fight, I will fight with him next,” Chimaev said. He lost. “But he lost. It’s me. And he lost as well. [Pereira and Adesanya] wants to rematch March. I’m not sure what they will do.
“I told Dana and Sean Shelby that I was ready to fight 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.”
Chimaev’s callouts may raise some eyebrows given the egg that he left on the UFC’s face at UFC 279 this past September. Ahead of a main event bout with Nate Diaz, Chimaev badly missed weight, coming in nine pounds over the welterweight limit, which resulted in a shuffling of the top three fights on the card. Chimaev went on to score a quick submission win over a different opponent, Kevin Holland.
Covington is a former welterweight champion who has a reputation for speaking out with his opponents before a fight. Chimaev asks “Chaos”, why they haven’t been pressing for them to face in the octagon.
“Sean Shelby, I spoke with him [about Pereira] and he said first, ‘Yeah, let’s go brother, we’ll do it,'” Chimaev said. “Then I don’t know what’s happening. He said, ‘OK brother, we’ll go Colby first.’ So maybe Colby, for me it doesn’t matter. Colby doesn’t talk about Colby or me. I’m not sure how Colby feels when Colby fights someone. He talks a lot and it’s hard to know what he thinks. We’ll see .”
Chimaev also addressed a recent callout from Belal Muhammad, who scored a big win over Sean Brady at UFC 280, and the possibility of moving up to light heavyweight and serving as a reserve fighter for the upcoming Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira rematch at UFC 282.
“Belal is talking about me as well, so he’s ready, he’s ready,” Chimaev said. It doesn’t really matter to me. Let’s get to it. I’m ready. Both divisions are open to me. If Prochazka or Teixeira lose, and if anyone gets hurt, then I’m available .”
Chimaev is 6-0 in UFC competition so far, with only Gilbert Burns taking him the distance. Four of those wins have come in the first round, including a 17-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert. Few have presented any notable challenge to Chimaev outside of Burns, with the two winning a Fight of the Night award at UFC 273.
Asked to compare Burns and Covington, Chimaev made it sound as if it’s hardly a comparison worth making.
“I think [Covington] will be much easier,” Chimaev said. Gilbert can be difficult to wrestle with, he is good at ground work and has a great wrestling style. He was a tough opponent, but I was able to wrestle with him and I won. In the Gilbert fight, I promised everyone, ‘I’m going to knock him out, going to knock him out, going to knock him out,’ I made in my mind that I had to knock him out. He was running at me for three rounds. Forget about the time, forget about the game plan, everything.”
“Colby is not the same kind of guy,” he continued. “Colby, I can take him down, submit him, I can knock him out. Usman dropped him. [Jorge] Masvidal dropped him. Why not you? If I punch him, he will not come up. He will sleep there a long time.”