Khamzat Chimaev would compete successfully against the top middleweights in the UFC, according to Robert Whittaker.
Although it may not be the most packed category from head to toe, middleweight is brimming with world-class talent, with Israel Adesanya at the forefront. But right behind him stands Robert Whittaker, whom many consider worthy of a significant spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. One person who has previously hinted at a permanent weight increase to 185 pounds is Khamzat Chimaev, one of the top welterweight fighters at the moment.
Since joining the UFC, he has picked up a couple of great victories at middleweight but hasn't really faced a top 15 opponent. During a post-fight interview over the weekend, he mentioned that he loves Whittaker and would like to train with him in the future. Although Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) had previously competed at middleweight, he has become a prominent contender at 170 pounds. However, many questions whether his future is at 185 pounds after he missed the welterweight cutoff by 7.5 pounds for his initially planned fight against Nate Diaz this past Saturday at UFC 279.
When questioned about a hypothetical fight with Whittaker, "Borz" claimed he'd instead train with Whittaker than fight him. Chimaev has previously stated his desire to become a UFC dual champion (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC). The once undefeated middleweight champion is undoubtedly curious.
“I’m happy with that,” Whittaker told Middle Easy. “His personality is just, what you see is what you get. He’s wild, but he’s a phenomenal fighter. I like his approach to hunting bad guys. I was impressed with that (Kevin) Holland fight, and yeah, I’m very interested in seeing where he goes with this.”
“Definitely, it is a compliment. I’d like to work with him because anyone that can implement game plans the way he has, and obviously, his wrestling and grappling are top-tier. He’s trained with the likes of Till as well. Hopefully, our paths cross and we can get some good work together.”
Whittaker stated he would gladly train with the unbeaten fighter and that they might be able to alter certain things in an interview with RJ Clifford and Din Thomas on Sirius XM.
“I heard what Khamzat said about wanting to fight bad guys and I can get behind that,” Whittaker said. “If he wants to train together, I want to train together, and we can go hunt bad guys together.
“I think it will be a lot of fun, and we can run a muck on a lot of people.”
Chimaev made headlines during UFC 279 fight week for his involvement in a backstage incident that resulted in the cancellation of the event's pre-fight press conference. He also significantly undershot the weight limit for his main event bout with Nate Diaz by 7.5 pounds, which forced the UFC to rearrange the top three fights.