Rumor: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa could be headed to UFC 294

Could Khamzat Chimaev finally be headed back to middleweight?

By: Zane Simon | 11 months
Rumor: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa could be headed to UFC 294
Khamzat Chimaev takes questions after UFC 279.

Are we finally going to get the return of Khamzat Chimaev to the UFC’s middleweight division. The fast rising Chechen star has been sitting on the sidelines since a miserably blown weight cut for UFC 279, where he had been set to take on Nate Diaz in a welterweight bout. Chimaev missed the mark by 7.5-pounds for the fight, forcing the UFC to have to re-shuffle almost the entire main card at the last minute. Chimaev ended up taking on Kevin Holland instead—at a 180-pound catchweight—defeating ‘Trailblazer’ via first round submission. That was more than six months ago, he hasn’t been seen since.

After the bout, there was talk as to whether the UFC would let Khamzat Chimaev stay at 170-pounds where he might already be a top contender, or whether White & Co. would force him up to the middleweight division where his frame is a much more natural fit. It seems the brass just might have won out.

Trusted news source Chael Sonnen has the inside scoop on Khamzat Chimaev’s next fight

On a recent episode of the MMA Hour, former UFC title contender and current talking head Chael Sonnen stopped by the show to chew the fat with Ariel Helwani. Among the topics covered were potential upcoming fights, especially in the middleweight division. That’s when Sonnen decided to drop a little news about the future of Khamzat Chimaev.

“Well, so my understanding is that Khamzat is going to fight Paulo Costa,” Sonnen revealed. “They’ve even got a date. They’re going to go out to Abu Dhabi—that’s a co-main event, very relevant, for 3-rounds instead of 5—Islam [Makhachev] on top of the bill. Now the relevance to Islam on top of the bill is, Islam is going to fight the winner of Charles [Oliveira] and Benny [Dariush] and that’s still 3 weeks away. So that means the card that I’m referencing out in Abu Dhabi, in the co-main event, we’re 4-5 months away in a best case scenario. So, it looks like we’re going to keep those two on ice.”

Helwani noted that the Abu Dhabi card is planned for October 22nd, asking Sonnen to confirm that that is the expected date for Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa. The ‘American Gangster’ waffled a bit at the idea that the story was coming straight from him, but eventually reaffirmed that the UFC 294 card was the target.

“I don’t know if that’s out there or not,” Sonnen said of his breaking news. “The world kinda knows it’s blowing in that direction. But, Paulo Costa did get his deal done with the UFC, right?…That’s all smoothed out…I didn’t know I was going to be revealing something, now you got me a little bit nervous. I was not sworn to secrecy and that is all true, what I just said.”

Costa’s camp recently noted the UFC was targeting Chimaev in Abu Dhabi

Whether or not the details all end up being exactly right, the story does jive with what’s been coming out of Paulo Costa’s camp. The Brazilian fighter has noted multiple times that he would like a fight with Khamzat Chimaev, and his girlfriend/manager recently noted that the UFC was specifically targeting the matchup and location.

“The UFC is interested in both fights,” Costa’s manager said of Khamzat Chimaev and Robert Whittaker, “but they really do see that the potential of a fight against Chimaev is gigantic. It’s Abu Dhabi, there’s that Asian market. They know Chimaev and Paulo have a true rivalry and that would help selling the fight. So who Paulo is going to fight depends on what the promotion wants to do with the product, with Paulo and the other athletes, too.”

It’s a long ways away for fans who might have hoped to see either Costa or Chimaev back in the cage any time soon. But at least it sounds like the fight is happening, and it should be an excellent booking.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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