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Chimaev Eyeing Whittaker Fight in Return to Middleweight Division

Khamzat Eyeing Whittaker Fight
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Chimaev Eyeing Whittaker Fight in Return to Middleweight

Questions regarding what weight class Khamzat Chimaev should fight in have surrounded him for a while now. After missing weight by eight pounds at UFC 279, many speculated his time at welterweight was over. Chimaev confirmed that possibility with a call out of former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker on Instagram.

Chimaev has been one of the most intriguing fighters to come into the UFC for some time and remains hungry for any opportunities. While nothing is confirmed yet, it is clear Khamzat is eyeing a fight with Whittaker in a return to middleweight.

Does Fight Make Sense for Both Whittaker and Chimaev?

Whittaker is not only one of the most likable fighters in the UFC but has an impressive resume to go along with it.

In response to Khamzat’s call out, Whittaker said on Australia’s largest MMA show, Submission Radio, “I think it’d be a good fight. That’ll be a showstopper for sure. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of people interested and excited.”

Whittaker being a formidable opponent on the ground and on the feet makes this an interesting fight stylistically. But does it make sense for Whittaker to fight someone not even ranked in his division?

This was a callout that UFC fans found surprising, even for Chimaev. In an interview with UFC journalists a few months ago, when asked about a fight with Robert Whittaker, Chimaev responded, “I like that guy, I don’t want to fight the good guys. I need to fight a bad guy. I want to train with him, he’s really good, one of the best guys in the world.”

He discussed some other thoughts but was overall showing complete respect towards the former middleweight champ. Clearly not having a fight since September has changed the Chechen’s mind enough to now be eyeing a fight with Whittaker at middleweight.

Khamzat Chimaev is currently the third ranked UFC welterweight contender. Fighting Whittaker at middleweight, especially if he were to lose, would delay his chances at a title shot.

However, if he actually is physically unable to consistently make weight at 170 pounds, he must fight at middleweight. And short of beating the current champion Alex Pereira, or former champion Israel Adesanya, a win over Whittaker would be the most impressive thing to do in a middleweight debut.

Meanwhile, a win for Whittaker does not do much for him except prove he does not fear the challenge of what many might consider a future champion. Definitely an interesting fight but only time will tell if it ever comes to fruition.


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