Earlier this month, Khamzat Chimaev solidified his standing as one of the brightest prospects in all of MMA. The Chechen wrestler scored a first-round submission over Kevin Holland and expressed interest in competing again right away. Today, we’ll discuss some possible fighters to serve as Khamzat Chimaev’s next opponent.
Chimaev failed to make the 170-pound limit for his scheduled bout against Nate Diaz at UFC279. That could signal he will be making a move back to 185 pounds. Here’s what you need to know.
Khamzat Chimaev is Expected to Return to Middleweight
The UFC has a knack for producing major superstars. Few fighters have burst onto the scene in the way that Khamzat Chimaev has, though. He’s competed in the promotion just six times, yet appears to be one of the most-talked-about fighters in the world.
Khamzat’s stock may have taken a slight dip earlier this month, though.
Chimaev was scheduled to headline UFC 279 opposite Nate Diaz on September 10. The day before the fight, Khamzat was stopped from cutting any more weight and made MMA news around the world by coming in eight pounds over the 170-pound limit. UFC officials then scrambled before eventually booking Chimaev against an old rival, Kevin Holland.
It took Khamzat just over two minutes to score a submission over Holland. Fans are now left wondering, “what is next?” Khamzat is clearly one of the most elite fighters in the world, yet UFC officials may be hesitant to book him in another welterweight bout anytime soon.
Let’s look at some of the most likely opponents for him to face off against.
Predicting Khamzat Chimaev’s Next Opponent
The UFC’s welterweight division has long been considered one of the most competitive in the sport of MMA. It’s here at 170 pounds that legends such as Matt Hughes, George St. Pierre, and Pat Miletich got their start. If indeed Khamzat remains in this division, who should he face next?
Colby Covington has been one of the best fighters at welterweight for years. Two title fight losses to Kamaru Usman have halted his progress, yet he still seems determined to become a champion in the future. Khamzat has repeatedly said he is open to fighting Colby in the future.
This would be a fascinating battle between wrestlers. Covington has incredible cardio, too. Fans around the world seem truly curious to see if Colby’s grappling skills and endless gas tank would be enough to derail Chimaev’s hype train.
Is the UFC willing to throw Khamzat into a title fight? Prior to the bout against Nate Diaz, Dana White hinted that the winner of that bout would receive a shot at the world title. Missing weight threw a wrench into those plans and it’s unclear if the UFC still intends on gifting Khamzat with a title fight.
There’s no doubt that a bout against Edwards would be interesting to watch. Leon won the title against Kamaru Usman last month and is one of the best strikers in all of MMA. He has also been booked to compete against Chimaev twice in the past, yet both fights fell through. This would be a striker vs. grappler bout and likely would end before going to the judge’s scorecards.
Perhaps the most likely scenario here is Khamzat moving up in weight. If that is the case, expect to see him competing against Paulo Costa. These two men nearly came to blows at the UFC PI Institute before UFC 279 and have been verbally sparring for months.
Costa is one of the best middleweights in MMA with expert striking and strong takedown defense. He would represent a serious test for Chimaev, who has never faced a fighter as big as Paulo Costa. From an excitement point of view, this has fireworks written all over it. The lead-up to fight night alone would be something fans would want to tune in for.
Anything is possible in MMA. There is always a chance that the UFC decides to book Khamzat into a different bout entirely. Stay tuned for updates on this situation over the next couple of months.