Khamzat Chimaev is still continuing to struggle with getting an opponent.
The surging prospect quickly became 3-0 in the UFC, and deserves a bigger name and a ranked foe next, but he is finding difficulty getting that high profile opponent. The 26-year-old took to social media to express his frustration and reveal that the latest fighter to decline a contest is former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
I can’t get Welterweight fight I’m going to start calling out middleweight @danawhite @Mickmaynard2— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) October 9, 2020
I just want to let my fans know and the people who support me the ufc offer me wonder boy and he turned it down at 170 and also chris Weidman at 185 who also turned it down. I’m coming for everyone— Khamzat Chimaev (@KChimaev) October 9, 2020
The number five ranked welterweight in Stephen Thompson earlier explained how it doesn’t make sense for him to fight an unranked opponent at this stage of his career. That’s likely the same reasoning for Weidman, who is currently the number nine ranked middleweight.
As Michael Chiesa explained, it’s not that fighters are really “scared” of Chimaev. It’s just not “smart business” to fight an unranked foe, as there’s very little reward for taking on that much risk.
“If he beats me, he takes my spot. If I beat him, they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a flash in the pan.’ You know what I mean? I probably don’t move up the rankings either. It’s like, dude, I’m trying to fight for a world title. You’ve got to do smart business,” Chiesa explained. “He beats a guy and gets ranked? That’s a different story.
“He beats a guy, like a veteran – let’s say, theoretically, he beats a ‘Wonderboy.’ Now, it’s lucrative. Now, it’s like, ‘Hell yeah.’ Now, he’s proven he’s the real thing.”
Although it’s not really how they do business, the UFC can always pay these ranked contenders a little extra, if they really want Chimaev to fight a top 5-10 opponent next. Because otherwise, there’s really not much incentive for them to risk their spot and face an unranked but equally dangerous foe — especially since rankings are regularly used in negotiations.
Another option could be to just put him against a fellow unranked opponent with a decent name. You don’t rush the talented but still untested prospect too quickly, and a high profile win against a veteran with name value would help Chimaev enter the top 15. Once he’s there, other ranked fighters are more likely accept a bout with him.