UFC’s Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa fight rumor is a giant mess

Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev? What the hell is going on with this UFC 294 fight card anyway.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago

It’s been nearly a year since Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev became an obvious fight the UFC needed to book. The two men met briefly at the UFC Performance Institute back in September of 2022, and had to be separated before they decided to do a little informal matchmaking on the spot.

In the time since, Costa has clashed hard with the UFC over contract negotiations, while Chimaev has been seemingly wrapped up in visa issues. Neither man has been able to make it to the Octagon so far in 2023.

UFC booked Paulo Costa against Ikram Aliskerov instead

After even Paulo Costa’s management revealed that the UFC felt like a fight with Chimaev in Abu Dhabi would be the natural booking to make, it seemed all but inevitable that that’s the fight fans would be seeing this coming October. Instead, the promotion announced in May that Costa would be taking on Islam Makhachev training partner and relative UFC newcomer Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291.

Instead of a fight everyone wanted, we got a matchup no one was asking for.

Seemingly that fight, however has fallen apart. Reports initially surfaced that Costa had been removed from UFC 291 for undisclosed reasons and was being replaced by Roman Dolidze. Dolidze, however, has since denied his involvement.

For his part, Aliskerov has taken to Instagram with some cryptic messaging. “The goal and ambition are the same,” the middleweight wrote. “Looking forward to the next fight. Let the eyes of your cowards never find rest in a dream.”

Reports surfacing of Costa vs. Chimaev booking

MMA Mellotto reports that, instead of Costa vs. Aliskerov, the Brazilian has signed a contract to face Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294. That’s far from confirmation that the bout will 100% be happening, but with so many rumors flying it seems like the natural outcome from all this talk.

Chimaev has been vocal on social media in recent months calling for the UFC to get him a bout booked, and claiming that he has been in training camp for months now, waiting for an opponent. In the meantime, Costa responded to the news of his new fight booking with a pic of himself and a UAE flag emoji.

If it feels like all signs are pointing to a done deal, however, Chimaev has thrown a wrench in the works. ‘Borz’ took to social media as well after rumors started flying to claim that he’s already got an opponent for Abu Dhabi and it’s not Paulo Costa.

Alongside the long teased fight against ‘Borrachinha’ Chimaev has spent the last few weeks chasing a bout against fomer welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. If Chimaev is facing someone at UFC 294 it seems likely to be one of those two men. Assuming he even makes it to the Octagon, the bout would mark the first time Chimaev has competed since defeating Kevin Holland in the desperately re-shuffled UFC 279 PPV after blowing his last cut to welterweight.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Chimaev and Costa that seem to be undergoing booking woes. UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev has been expecting to defend his title at UFC 294 as well. Unfortunately, if his latest plea to face welterweight champion Leon Edwards is anything to judge by, his search for a top contender is not going well. At the moment, a flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Muhammad Mokaev is the only bout that’s been made official for the card.

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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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