Kamaru Usman recently named Khamzat Chimaev as his next possible opponent. For “The Nigerian Nightmare,” a fight with the undefeated Chimaev is an easy draw for a pay-per-view headliner.
UFC president Dana White is on board with the idea, but the fight has to happen under one stipulation.
Usman called out Chimaev for his next fight
Usman failed to reclaim the undisputed welterweight title from Leon Edwards in their third fight at UFC 286 in March. That means he will have to get back in line for another title shot. Nonetheless, he feels worthy of a PPV headliner and named “Borz” as his dance partner.
“A fight with myself and Khamzat? Boom,” Usman said in a recent interview with ESPN. “I’m kind of in a place now where I’m having fun with it, and what’s the biggest, funnest, most intense fight that really makes me feel something?
“That’s a fight right there. That could headline a pay-per-view.”
Dana White agrees on the matchup under one condition
Dana White recently spoke to Jim Rome about the potential matchup between Usman and Chimaev. He is open to the idea, but refuses to do the fight at a catchweight, which he says Usman asked for.
“What I hate about that fight and calling him out, Usman’s calling him out, but at a catchweight. I don’t do catchweights. I don’t like catchweights. Catchweights mean nothing. They mean absolutely nothing.
“If (Usman) wants to move up to 185 and fight him, we can talk about it. But trying to fight him at a catchweight, I’m not interested in it.”
What Usman did tell Brett Okamoto during their interview was that he is open to face Chimaev at welterweight or middleweight.
“He’s a fighter and I’m a fighter at the end of the day,” he said of Chimaev. “I fight these guys’ hearts, not their weight. I’ve been able to deal with middleweights and light heavyweights in the gym.
“And if he wants a shot at the welterweight strap, you kind of have to give a little bit and show I can get down there and do it. But if it’s up a weight, potentially.”
Khamzat Chimaev’s future
Dana White’s stipulation for a middleweight fight likely comes from Chimaev’s next plans. The 29-year-old missed the welterweight limit for his UFC 279 fight with Kevin Holland, which led to a 180-pound catchweight. Chimaev disposed of “Big Mouth” inside one round to keep an unblemished slate at 12-0.
As for the succeeding bouts, his coach confirmed that Chimaev will be moving up in weight. But if something big opens up at 170 pounds, they will be entertaining that, too.
“He’s getting strong for the new weight class,” coach Andreas Michael said of his fighter. “It’s middleweight, he’s going to fight at middleweight. But if the title comes at welterweight, miracles can happen — and they will happen. We will get him down, don’t worry.”
For Dana White, Chimaev is a much better fit at middleweight, and even worthy of a top-tier opponent.
“He’ll fight at middleweight, yeah,” the UFC boss said. “And yes, he’s in a position where he should be fighting top three guys in the world.”
One of the names floated around for Chimaev’s next fight at 185 pounds is Paulo Costa. The pairing is rumored to be part of UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi in October.
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