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Khamzat Chimaev still hoping for Kamaru Usman catchweight in Abu Dhabi

In a new interview, Chimaev suggested Usman is still the most likely opponent for his next fight in October.

UFC 279 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Khamzat Chimaev is set to return to action in October when the UFC heads to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294. Who he’ll face is still a mystery, but “Borz” is hopeful he’ll face former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in a special catchweight bout.

In a new interview with Swedish outlet Expressen, Chimaev gave an update on preparations for his next fight.

“We train as usual here in Stockholm,” he said. “We were in Dubai for training camp, but came back now. Then, a month before the match, we will go to Abu Dhabi. But otherwise we train as usual here in Stockholm. We are ready for the match.”

“It could be Usman, 90 percent,” he added. “But he’s talking about two kilos, he doesn’t want to gain two kilos [4.5 pounds]. Dana White talks about 82 kilos [181 pouds]. We’ll see. There was no other match. It’s just him.”

When Usman vs. Chimaev first started coming up in the press, White sounded open to the fight in theory but was dead set against booking it as a catchweight. Usman fights at 170 pounds, while Chimaev is supposed to be moving up to middleweight for his next bout.

“If he wants to move up to 185 and fight him, we can talk about it,” White said at the start of May. “But trying to fight him at a catchweight, I’m not interested in.”

During UFC 289 weekend, White shut down the matchup, calling discussion of the fight ‘bulls—.’

The new rumored opponent for Chimaev is No. 3 ranked middleweight Jared Cannonier. While Cannonier doesn’t have the fame or legacy that Kamaru Usman has, he’s a proper middleweight with a high ranking. A win over Kamaru at catchweight doesn’t get “Borz” anywhere at welterweight or middleweight. A win over Cannonier puts him within striking distance of a UFC title. Nothing has been announced on that front, but it makes more sense.

Expressen also asked Chimaev about his support for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. While Khamzat lives and trains in Sweden, he periodically returns to his home country of Chechnya where he’s often seen training and palling around with Kadyrov and his sons. It’s a controversial topic given Kadyrov’s human rights abuses, as well as his role supporting Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Chimaev’s team tried to shut down the interview when Kadyrov came up, but he insisted on giving an answer.

“Wait, wait, wait,” he said. “He is the president of my country. There is the king in Sweden, isn’t there? If the king tells me to come and dine with him, I will. I will respect the king. [Kadyrov] is the president of my country and I respect him. When he calls me to dinner, I have dinner with him. If I go to the United States, and the president calls me there, I will go there and eat with him.”

When pressed about Kadyrov’s human rights violations, Chimaev sidestepped the question.

“What? I am an athlete,” he said.

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