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Jared Cannonier: Khamzat Chimaev ‘would have to face me, Robert Whittaker or Israel Adesanya’ at middleweight

UFC 279: Chimaev v Holland Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Khamzat Chimaev’s fighting future remains in question: Is he a Welterweight or a Middleweight?

UFC 279 was thrown into late chaos after Chimaev missed weight for his 170-pound main event against Nate Diaz by 7.5 pounds. The result of the drastic miss led Chimaev to a 180-pound Catchweight bout versus Kevin Holland, which he won in his typical dominant fashion via first round d’arce choke submission (watch highlights).

Chimaev has competed in the Middleweight division numerous times in his flawless 12-fight career and is continuing to express interest in going back up. If he does return, however, top contender and one-time title challenger, Jared Cannonier, doesn’t think “Borz” should jump right into a championship bout.

“Personally, if he wants to get up there he needs to go through at least somebody in the Top 10,” Cannonier told Helen Yee. “Being one of the ones at the top, he would have to face me or Robert [Whittaker] or Israel [Adesanya]. If you’re gonna give him somebody, give him somebody in the Top 3 like they did at Welterweight.

“I don’t care what they do with him,” he concluded. “I’m not really focused on him, I’m focused on myself. So, I’m sitting right where I am and whoever comes at me, I’m gonna give it to them all the same way. That’d be a fun fight for sure, hell yeah.”

Chimaev is currently the No. 3-ranked contender in the Welterweight division despite his big miss. The star wrestler has been linked to a possible Colby Covington match up since the Holland win in Sept. 2022, but no real traction has been made.

As for Cannonier, the “Killa Gorilla” recently rebounded off his title fight setback against Israel Adesanya in July 2022, defeating Sean Strickland via a competitive split decision in Dec. 2022.

“I feel you should definitely fight your way to the top,” Cannonier said. “I also understand the business side of things to a certain extent and it wouldn’t look good. It wouldn’t feel good, that’s for damn sure.

“I can’t sit here and say this is what he should do to get to the title,” he continued. “Alex Pereira had what? Two? Three fights? Then he won his title. I’m not here to say who should do what to get a title [shot]. UFC has its structure that it goes by and we’ve seen how it plays out in many different situations.”

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