Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is desperately trying to find the growing Khamzat Chimaev phenomenon as a meaningful fight at 170 or 185 pounds, but signing an opponent on the dotted line has been difficult.
Chimaev, who made his Octagon debut on “Fight Island” last July, took the MMA world by storm with three dominant wins. That includes his recent 17-second knockout of veteran middleweight Gerald Meerschaert a month ago (highlights HERE).
Considering Chimev’s success and the UFC wanting to push him up the ranks faster than anyone we’ve ever seen, potential opponents are turning away from the game. Most agree that Shimaev is the real deal, but with little to gain with a win over “Borz” no one wants to step in and fight him.
That includes welterweight contender Michael Chiesa, who spoke to reporters earlier this week. Chiesa paid tribute to Chimaev’s skills, but laid out the reasons why a fighter in his position would not accept a fight with the young star.
“If he beats me, he takes my place. If I beat him they say, “Oh, that’s a lightning bolt in the pan. ” You know what I mean? I’m probably not moving up the rankings either. It’s like, man, I’m trying to fight for a world title. You have to do smart business. … The guy is legitimate. I respect his skills. I just don’t know if this is the fight I want right now. Does he beat a guy and get ranked? It’s a different story, ”Chiesa explained.
“I can see why all these guys don’t want to fight him. It’s not that they (are afraid). There isn’t a guy on the list who’s afraid of anyone. When someone says, “Joe Schmo is afraid of John Smith? Like, (expletive) no. “
Chiesa is right. Despite Chimaev’s size and the strength with which the UFC continues to push its mark, it’s almost not worth fighting him if you’re ranked in the top 10 welterweight or middleweight. The payoff is simply not worth the risk.
“You have to think of it like that,” Chiesa said. “He beats a guy, like a veteran – say, in theory, he beats a ‘Wonderboy’. Now it’s lucrative. Now it’s like, ‘Hell yeah.’ Now he’s proven to be the real thing.
Earlier today, Chimaev posted the following message on Twitter, revealing that Stephen Thompson and Chris Weidman both turned down the bouts.
I just want to let my fans and the people who support me know that the UFC offers me Wonder Boy and he turned down at 170 and also Chris Weidman at 185 who turned it down as well. I come for everyone
– Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) October 9, 2020
“I just want my fans to know that and the people who support me in UFC to offer me Wonder Boy and he turned it down at 170 and also Chris Weidman at 185 who turned it down as well. I come for everyone, ”Chimaev wrote.
If Chimaev was able to pull off a victory over a top 15-ranked opponent, it might give some of those other top contenders more incentive to accept a fight. Until that happens, the UFC will continue to scramble to find a fight for “Borz”.
As for Chiesa, who could very well meet Chimaev at some point in the future, he has not competed since a decision victory over Rafael dos Anjos in January. “Maverick” has won each of his first three appearances at 170 pounds since switching from lightweight in late 2018.