Khamzat Chimaev in middleweight? Coach reveals two things that would prompt the UFC star to move divisions!
Khamzat Chimaev is carefully weighing his options in both welterweight and middleweight.
For UFC sensation Khamzat, the last month has been somewhat of a rough one. After missing weight by a huge margin (7.5 lbs) ahead of his career-making fight against Nate Diaz, Khamzat was removed from the main event and instead faced off against Kevin Holland in a catchweight bout. “Borz” completely dominated Holland on the ground in the very first round, earning his twelfth straight victory.
However, despite an impressive performance, questions still remain surrounding the undefeated fighter’s future at welterweight, where he is currently ranked number three. With another win a title shot is likely next for the rising star, however whether Khamzat can make the welterweight limit again remains to be seen. With a trilogy fight between champion Leon Edwards and former champion Kamaru Usman on the horizon, a step up to middleweight seems a logical choice. Khamzat’s BJJ coach Alan Nascimento doesn’t rule out the possibility.
“The 170 division is a bit stuck because there will be a rematch,” Nascimento told MMA Fighting. “Chimaev’s situation at 170 is, he either waits for the fight or (serves as) a backup fighter in case someone gets injured. But, in case he moves up, a fight with a top-5 guy would definitely be interesting.”
“But we don’t rule out the possibility of, even though I think it’s very hard for (Israel) Adesanya to beat ‘Poatan’ (Alex Pereira), (Adesanya) would have beaten everyone in the top 7 at least once, to even twice in some cases. So, maybe we would jump the line and have a title fight at 185. It’s really hard to know right now what decisions to make. We must wait for fights to happen so we know the next step.”
“We thought about going up, but we have created a legacy at 170 already. If we go up to 185, everything would have been for nothing, except for the experience. But the focus is on becoming champion. After he mentioned (going up), we sat down with the whole team and decided to wait for the (welterweight division) to settle so at least we have a title fight. If he wins, perfect, we go for the next one. If he loses, we’d go up.”
If Khamzat loses a future title fight at welterweight, a permanent move to middleweight seems likely. Another attractive opportunity in the heavier division is a fight against middleweight rival Paulo Costa. Khamzat and Costa got into a tense confrontation at the UFC Performance Institute before the former’s fight at UFC 279, and have been going back and forth on social media ever since. A potential date could be January 21, when the promotion makes its way to Rio de Janeiro for UFC 283.
“If the UFC thinks that’s doable, he can make it happen,” Nascimento said of a fight against Costa. “The UFC is a company that wants numbers, wants results, wants to sell, so I believe the UFC will make it happen if they want to. For sure.”
- Retired MMA legend Jose Aldo stuck in contract limbo: “I haven’t left the UFC”
- UFC legend GSP warns Israel Adesanya against going too far in pleasing fans: “Don’t pass the line”
- Tito Ortiz on why the grudge match against UFC president Dana White fell through: “Lose-lose situation”