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. “But he lost. And I was thinking if [Israel] 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.
“So I said to Sean Shelby and Dana 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.”
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, a two-time welterweight title challenger, is known for being vocal with opponents ahead of a fight, so Chimaev wonders why “Chaos” hasn’t been pushing for them to meet 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 isn’t talking about the fight or about me, so you know how Colby is doing when he fights somebody, he doesn’t stop talking, so I don’t know. We will 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. “For me, it actually doesn’t matter. Just give me some fight and let’s fight. I’m ready. I’m ready for both divisions as well. If Prochazka and Teixeira, their fight, if somebody gets changed or something happens there, I’m ready for them as well.”
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 is hard to fight with because he’s good on the ground as well and he’s not bad in wrestling as well. But I could wrestle with him, I took him down easy. 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. That’s why I was running after him 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. So why not me? If I punch him, he will not come up. He will sleep there a long time.”