Is Khamzat Chimaev's next opponent on the horizon? The middleweight division is abuzz with speculation after a recent comment from one of its rising stars, Brendan Allen, and his management team.
Fresh off a resounding submission victory at UFC Jacksonville, Brendan Allen wasted no time making his intentions clear. In his post-fight interview, Allen fearlessly declared, "I will be the next champion" in the middleweight division. Among the names he called out was Jared Cannonier, hinting at a potential clash for a shot at the title.
However, Allen later apologized for his impromptu callout during the post-fight press conference, admitting that his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, had cautioned against targeting fighters who already had scheduled bouts. Allen showed remorse, saying:
"First off, sorry to Ali. He told me not to call anyone out that has a fight, or Cannonier because he potentially has a fight from what we understand. But I already memorized all that stuff, so I was like shit, I gotta go with it. I'm sorry, I'll just have to take the heat later. It's better to ask for forgiveness."
The media, smelling an intriguing storyline, pressed Allen for details, questioning whether Cannonier's rumored fight was actually against the highly touted Khamzat Chimaev. Allen responded with a mischievous smile, saying, "I plead the fifth."
While Allen tantalizingly hinted at a potential matchup between Chimaev and Cannonier, he expressed no reservations about welcoming the Chechen fighter back to the middleweight division. Fearlessly, he proclaimed:
"I fear no man. I turn down no fight. If that's what he wants, he can come get it. I don't care. Anyone can come get it. Khamzat, Cannonier, Vettori, they can all get it. What is he going to do, take me down? I can jump guard, but what are you gonna do with it? I'm a different beast on my back, on top, doesn't matter."
With most of the top middleweight contenders already booked for fights, Jared Cannonier, currently ranked at number three, appears to be the logical choice for Khamzat Chimaev's next opponent. Chimaev, the undefeated welterweight contender ranked at number four, is reportedly being forced to move up to middleweight after a significant weight miss in his last contest.
While a highly anticipated matchup with Paulo Costa was briefly discussed, the UFC has since moved on, booking Costa against Ikram Aliskerov instead.
In the high-stakes world of mixed martial arts, the chessboard is set, and the fighters are ready to make their moves. Will Khamzat Chimaev and Jared Cannonier step into the octagon to determine who deserves a shot at middleweight gold? Only time will tell.