Khamzat Chimaev desires a matchup with Alex Pereira, the UFC's recently crowned middleweight champion. Whereas Dana White, the president of the UFC, has indicated that he wants Chimaev to contest against Colby Covington at welterweight.
Chimaev (12-0) informed the promotion this week that he has asked for a middleweight title battle against Pereira at UFC 283, which takes place on January 21 in Rio de Janeiro, and that he will then return two months later to take on Covington at the anticipated UFC 285 event.
"They want [me to fight] in March. I said to [UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby] and Dana, I'm ready for Pereira in Brazil as well," Chimaev said. "Directly after that, March. If Colby wants to fight, I'll take my [middleweight] title and go back to [welterweight]."
“Who’s fighting in Brazil? I don’t understand. It’s not that good of an event so if they let us fight, it will be a big event.”
The UFC enjoys the idea of Chimaev facing Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) in March, according to Chimaev, who only received a response from Shelby. Yet Chimaev has not received any indication of Covington's side's desire.
“He said, ‘OK brother, we go first Colby,’ so maybe Colby,” Chimaev said. “For me it doesn’t matter. Colby is just not talking about that fight and about me. Colby when he fights somebody, he just doesn’t stop talking… so we will see.”
Chimaev, a Chechen who trains out of Sweden, is in a special situation. Although he is currently the No. 3 welterweight in the UFC, he has also fought at 170 and 185 pounds. After failing to make the scale for a bout versus Nate Diaz in September at a targeted 170-pound weight, he most recently faced Kevin Holland at a catchweight of 180 pounds.
He appeared to be in a great position to threaten Israel Adesanya for the middleweight championship or Kamaru Usman for the welterweight championship since both were out of title contenders due to strong performances. But at UFC 281, Usman's championship was forfeited to Leon Edwards in September, and Adesanya was defeated by Pereira the following weekend.
However, Chimaev fancies his capabilities if UFC is willing to schedule him against its new middleweight king in Brazil. Chimaev, a well-known powerful grappler, doesn't view former kickboxing champ Pereira as much of a threat.
"If Israel takes him down and takes wrist control, punches -- this guy [couldn't] get up from there? I don't know how he would come up from me," Chimaev said. "Israel's ground game is a white belt, the other guy gets his brown belt, and he was under Israel. I don't understand. ... The guy has power, he's one of the best guys in striking. But on the ground, he was s---."