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UFC champ warns cocky Khamzat not to underestimate Paulo Costa — ‘He’s a hard fight’

UFC Fight Night: Costa v Vettori Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Khamzat Chimaev is returning to middleweight.

“Borz” hasn’t been seen since his first-round submission victory over welterweight “Trailblazer” Kevin Holland at the UFC 279 pay-per-view (PPV) event back in late 2022, a dominant victory overshadowed by a messy scale fail that ultimately spelled the end for Chimaev’s torrid run at 170 pounds.

And he won’t get an easy out for his middleweight return, drawing No. 6-ranked ex-title challenger Paulo Costa at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi.

“I don’t know who’s going to win but I think if I’m favoring, I might be favoring Khamzat a little bit more,” UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya told MMA Fighting. “Because I like new blood. I just made Paulo look easy but trust me, he’s a hard fight. He’s a hard fight but I made him look easy. But I think I’m rooting for Khamzat more in that fight.”

Adesanya stopped Costa in the second round of their UFC 253 title fight back in late 2020, sending “The Eraser” to the first defeat of his pro career.

The 32 year-old Brazilian (14-2) would follow up that loss by dropping a unanimous decision to the rough-and-tumble Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 41 before rebounding with a judges’ nod over former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 278. Chimaev, 29, has remained perfect through his first 12 fights.

To see who else is fighting at UFC 294 click here.

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