Undefeated UFC welterweight rising star Khamzat Chimaev blasted his way into 170-pound title contention with his epic “Fight of the Night” opposite Gilbert Burns at the UFC 273 pay-per-view (PPV) event earlier this month in Jacksonville.
The victory elevated Chimaev to the No. 2 spot in the welterweight rankings and “Borz” could be next in line for a crack at the 170-pound crown if he’s able to get past fellow wrestler and two-time title challenger Colby Covington.
UFC analyst Chael Sonnen is not getting his hopes up.
“I don’t think they have that match. I don’t think they’ve ever had that match. I don’t even think they’ve spoken to Colby about the match,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel (transcribed by MMA News). “Dana just said, ‘This is the direction we’re going.’ It was meant to be a compliment to Colby. Dana was trying to say, ‘Covington, who’s a star, I’m going to take my star and I’m gonna put him in the main event. Whoever wins between Burns and Chimaev is going to feed into that main event.’ It was meant to be something very sweet for Colby.”
“I was just predicting, much like Belal (Muhammad), that’s not how Colby’s hearing it,” Sonnen continued. “That’s not how Colby wants to get this done. I also wasn’t sold on the idea that the organization was willing to make that a number one contender’s match. My gut feeling is that the organization would lean towards the idea that if Chimaev wins, Chimaev would fight for the championship. Knowing Colby the way I do, that’s going to insult him, and it’s just not going to work. I never talked to Colby, this is me speaking.”
Covington (17-3) is unlikely to accept such a high stakes fight if he’s not guaranteed a third shot at the 170-pound strap, particularly if Chimaev (11-0) is promised a title bout with a victory over “Chaos.” That’s why No. 5-ranked Belal Muhammad (21-2, 1 NC), fresh off his decision win over Vicente Luque on ESPN, used his post-fight interview to shoot his shot.
“In his last moments on the worldwide leader, with the biggest audience he’s going to have, that he wants to influence, [Muhammad] inserts himself in a fight that’s already done. That’s what we were led to believe,” Sonnen said. “Now, all of a sudden, Belal came out… He just came out and said, ‘I think I’m going to be fighting Chimaev next. I don’t think Colby is going to do that match.’ I think he’s right. I think Belal is going to get that fight. And now, all of a sudden, it does become a number one contender’s match for both guys. As much as you would like to see Chimaev vs. Colby… If it becomes Chimaev vs. Muhammad, that means it’s gonna become Colby vs. Burns. You got any problem with those matchups?”
Chimaev might ... he doesn’t have time for “Bullshit Boys.”