Khamzat Chimaev might be on the rise at welterweight but what has he done at middleweight to deserve a title shot?
Diddly-squat. Absolutely nothing.
That’s according to Israel Adesanya’s head coach Eugene Bareman, who claims ‘rising star’ Chimaev (2-0 at middleweight) has to establish himself at 185 before he starts talking about a title shot against newly-crowned champion Alex Pereira.
“I haven’t seen the numbers on the last fight, but I’m sure they’re very, very good,” Bareman told Submission Radio about Adesanya vs. Pereira (h/t MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck). “I think in the middleweight division, I still think that’s the biggest fight.”
“Khamzat’s a rising star, but he’s done literally nothing at middleweight,” Bareman added. “So, he hasn’t established himself. You’re talking about two guys at the top of the food chain in terms of their status in combat sports. Khamzat’s a rising star. Like, he’s a massive rising star. But he’s not in the position of these two guys. This is the biggest fight. Khamzat still has to beat people at middleweight and work his way up to even fighting one of these guys. So, unless the politics take over and the business of the sport take over – and that’s essentially how we arrived at this fight that we’re talking about, right? So, it’s still the biggest fight to make.”
Despite wanting to fight at middleweight, Khamzat’s next fight is expected to be at welterweight. The UFC is reportedly looking to match him up with former interim champ Colby Covington in a number-one contender’s bout at UFC London in March 2023.
As for Adesanya, the defeated champ will likely rematch Pereira next year, with coach Bareman ‘quietly confident’ that he will get the next title shot and a chance to reclaim his middleweight championship.
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