Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa is finally official… finally. The two men have been jawing at each other for the better part of year while at the same time remaining decidedly inactive when it comes to actually taking fights inside the Octagon. A bout between them has been rumored for months, but seemed entirely off the table when the UFC announced that Costa would be taking on newcomer Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291 this weekend.
For reasons still unknown (perhaps that Costa never actually signed a contract for the fight), that bout ended up getting scrapped. And instead, fans will get the bout they should have had all along. Costa vs. Chimaev, in Abu Dhabi, at UFC 294. Safe to say both men are ready to get at one another.
Khamzat Chimaev wants to make Paulo Costa cry
Now that they’ve actually got a contract in place, Chimaev and Costa are already ramping up the trash talk. In a recent interview with TNT Sports, the Chechen-born Allstars talent out of Sweden revealed his plans for defeating ‘Borrachinha’ most notably, he wants to beat Costa badly enough that the Brazilian breaks down in the Octagon.
“Smash, make money,” Chimaev told TNT Sports (transcript via MMA Junkie). “I make that guy cry, go home, be in Brazil. Nobody likes him. All Brazilians like me, support me. That guy is not Brazilian. I’m going to go, smash this guy and make him cry.”
While Chimaev has seemingly yet to bring anyone to the brink of tears, the 29-year-old has been nothing if not a destructive force inside the cage. At least, whenever he can be seen inside the cage.
Unbeaten through 12 fights, Chimaev made a big splash in the UFC back in 2020, rushing out to three quick finishes in the first three months of his Octagon career. Things have slowed down significantly since, however. With Chimaev competing just once in 2021, following a terrible bout of COVID-19, and then twice in 2022 before being sidelined due to weight management problems and rumors of “personal problems” and potential travel restrictions. ‘Borz’ hasn’t competed since defeating Kevin Holland via first round submission at UFC 279 in September of last year.
Paulo Costa has his own message
If Chimaev plans to make Costa quit and cry it doesn’t sound like his proposition is being met with any lack of confidence on the Brazilian’s side. In a recent video posted to his social media, the 32-year-old revealed plans of his own—namely, to “f—k [Khamzat Chimaev] in [his] f—king house.”
“Gourmet Chen Chen has no chance, zero, no chance,” Costa announced in a short video message. “I’m going to destroy him; dead man walking. Dead man walking right there in Chechnya. I come to f*ck you in your f—king house, motherf—ker. Training hard every single day, I have no days off. Look at this face, look at this face. Look right here, gourmet Chen Chen: the man who is going to kill you.”
Much like Chimaev, Costa has spent a lot more time talking about fights than actually taking them lately. The former middleweight title challenger has competed just two times since failing in his bid to take UFC gold from Israel Adesanya back in September of 2020. The Fight Ready talent followed that fight with a loss to Marvin Vettori at light heavyweight, in which his general lack of motivation seemed to be a significant factor, before returning again in August of 2022 for a bloody war with Luke Rockhold that saw Costa win a unanimous decision. The months since that bout have been marked by prolonged contract negotiations for the Brazilian.
Daniel Cormier thinks this is a title eliminator… for Khamzat
Since his very first fight inside the world’s largest MMA promotion, the one question on everyone’s mind has been, how long before we see Khamzat Chimaev fight for a belt? After beating Gilbert Burns back in April of last year, Chimaev seemed on the cusp of a shot at then-welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Instead, Leon Edwards got the nod, and Chimaev got a stay busy fight against Nate Diaz… for which he blew the weight cut so badly that he had to be reassigned to a new weight class afterward.
Having already been poised for contention at 170 lbs, does that mean Chimaev should be near the front of the line at middleweight? If he beats Costa, former double champion DC doesn’t see any reason that Chimaev wouldn’t be right there in the mix.
“If he beats Paulo Costa, Khamzat Chimaev will have earned himself a title fight at 185 pounds,” Cormier said in a recent video on his YouTube channel (transcript via BJPenn.com). “And I don’t think anyone can disagree with that. I don’t believe that beating Gilbert Burns, going up, and now beating Paulo Costa doesn’t get you a championship opportunity. It makes you the No. 1 contender between Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis.”
If DC is right, however, the question quickly becomes, does Chimaev jump ahead of Du Plessis in line? Or are we just getting set up for another long stretch of inactivity for the Chechen. By all accounts, the bad blood between Du Plessis and Adesanya seems serious enough that—assuming Izzy beats Sean Strickland—it’s very hard to imagine that fight not getting booked in the immediate future. Of course, should Strickland win, it also seems unlikely that Adesanya doesn’t get an immediate chance at revenge.
Chimaev vs. Costa is definitely a big fight, and the stakes absolutely feel high going into it. But hopefully the outcome won’t just be another long stretch of inactivity for either man once they get on the other side of it.
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