Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is desperately trying to find rising phenom Khamzat Chimaev a meaningful fight at either 170 or 185 pounds, but it’s been difficult to get an opponent to sign on the dotted line.
Chimaev, who made his Octagon debut on “Fight Island” back in July, has taken the MMA world by storm with three dominant victories. This includes his recent 17-second knockout over middleweight veteran Gerald Meerschaert one month ago (highlights HERE).
Given the success of Chimev and the fact that UFC wants to push him up the ladder quicker than anyone we’ve ever seen, prospective opponents are shying away from the matchup. Most acknowledge that Chimaev is the real deal, but with little to gain with a win over “Borz” nobody wants to step up and fight him.
This includes welterweight contender Michael Chiesa, who spoke with reporters earlier this week. Chiesa paid tribute to Chimaev’s skills, but laid out the reasons why a fighter in his position wouldn’t accept a fight with the young star.
“If he beats me, he takes my spot. If I beat him, they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a flash in the pan.’ You know what I mean? I probably don’t move up the rankings either. It’s like, dude, I’m trying to fight for a world title. You’ve got to do smart business. … The guy is legit. I respect his skills. I just don’t know if that’s the fight I want right now. He beats a guy and gets ranked? That’s a different story,” explained Chiesa.
“I can see why all these guys don’t want to fight him. It’s not that they’re (scared). There’s not a guy on the roster that’s afraid of anybody. When someone says, ‘Joe Schmo is afraid of John Smith?’ Like, (expletive) no.”
Chiesa does have a point. Despite how big Chimaev is getting and how hard UFC continues to push his brand, it’s almost not worth fighting him if you’re someone ranked in the welterweight or middleweight top 10. The reward simply isn’t worth the risk.
“You’ve got to think about it like this,” said Chiesa. “He beats a guy, like a veteran – let’s say, theoretically, he beats a ‘Wonderboy.’ Now, it’s lucrative. Now, it’s like, ‘Hell yeah.’ Now, he’s proven he’s the real thing.”
Earlier today, Chimaev posted the following message to Twitter revealing that Stephen Thompson and Chris Weidman have both turned down fights.
I just want to let my fans know and the people who support me the ufc offer me wonder boy and he turned it down at 170 and also chris Weidman at 185 who also turned it down. I’m coming for everyone— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) October 9, 2020
“I just want to let my fans know and the people who support me the UFC offer me Wonder Boy and he turned it down at 170 and also Chris Weidman at 185 who also turned it down. I’m coming for everyone,” wrote Chimaev.
If Chimaev was able to score a win over an opponent ranked in the top 15 maybe it would give some of these other top contenders more incentive to accept a fight. Until that happens, UFC will continue to scramble to find a fight for “Borz.”
As for Chiesa, who may very well encounter Chimaev at some point in the future, he hasn’t competed since a decision win over Rafael dos Anjos back in January. “Maverick” has won each of his first three appearances at 170 pounds since moving up from lightweight in late 2018.