It’s been a slow year for Khamzat Chimaev, who hasn’t competed since a first round submission win over Kevin Holland back in Sept. 2022 (watch it). He’d like to change that, and he’s calling on UFC to bring things back to the days where he’d fight multiple times over the course of a few months.
“Borz” burst onto the scene by fighting three times in two months, racking up three fast finishes. He’s only managed to fight three times in the two years since that. You can blame a bad bout of COVID-19 and a roster reluctant to fight him for some of that, but these days no one seems to know why Khamzat isn’t fighting.
Whatever the reason, Chimaev is looking to change up the pace.
“I am ready to fight in Paris ready to fight after in Abu Dhabi let me smash somebody UFC,” he wrote on Twitter.
UFC’s upcoming Paris, France, card is set to go down on Sept. 2, 2023. Meanwhile, UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi is five weeks later on Oct. 21, 2023. Will the UFC go for this idea? We have our doubts. At this point it seems clear that the promotion is holding onto several high profile fighters specifically for the Abu Dhabi event in October.
Islam Makhachev came out of his close fight with Alexander Volkanovski in February ready to fight again months later. UFC brass told him to take the summer off because his next defense wasn’t until October. Chimaev has entered multiple training camps in the hopes that he’d compete earlier in 2023.
But, the only date he’s been given assurances about is the October Abu Dhabi card.
I am ready to fight in paris ready to fight after in abu dhabi let me smash somebody @ufc— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) June 18, 2023
UFC has a few special locations where it pulls out all the stops to coordinate top-tier tentpole events. Madison Square Garden in New York City is one. Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates is another. That was true when the Nahyan dynasty was an investor in UFC, and it’s even more true now after the country made “Fight Island” happen, saving UFC from defaulting on delivery of events to ESPN during the pandemic.
Having Chimaev fight twice in five weeks is a good way to end up with an injured Chimaev once UFC 294 comes around. Why the promotion hasn’t kept him active earlier this year when there was ample time for him to recover still isn’t clear. UFC President, Dana White, insists there’s no drama causing it, but that just makes the promotion look worse.
If there’s no good reason, then UFC has wasted one of its biggest up-and-coming star’s year through sheer negligence.
It’s been a strange year for UFC, defined just as much by who isn’t fighting (cough, Conor McGregor) just as who is. Sometimes it feels like the entire top of the roster is getting slow-played just to keep costs down. In a sport where the window for athletes to make money and compete at the highest level is so short, that’s a real darn shame.
Especially when we know Khamzat would fight five times a year if UFC let him.