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Fighting ‘legit’ Khamzat Chimaev is not ‘smart business,’ admits Michael Chiesa

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Top 10 ranked UFC welterweight Michael Chiesa says Khamzat Chimaev presents more risk than reward.

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Michael Chiesa, who is ranked 8th in the UFC’s welterweight rankings, is currently in Abu Dhabi where he will be part of the broadcast team for the UFC’s latest run of fights on Yas Island. During a media scrum Chiesa was asked about fellow welterweight Khamzat Chimaev, whose Fight Island exploits have catapulted him into MMA relevancy.

Chimaev is 9-0 after three quick wins in the UFC over a period of two months. He debuted in the Octagon in July with a submission win over John Phillips. He followed that up ten days later with a TKO of Rhys Mckee. Last month ‘Bors’ knocked out Gerald Meerschaert in just 17 seconds.

Since then Chimaev’s name has been mentioned opposite established welterweights like Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia.

Chiesa told reporters that he doesn’t blame a top ranked fighter deciding not to take a fight against the dangerous Chechen-born Swede.

“You’ve got to think about it like this,” he said. “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.” (h/t MMA Junkie)

“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. … The guy is legit. I respect his skills. I just don’t know if that’s the fight I want right now. He beats a guy and gets ranked? That’s a different story.

“I can see why all these guys don’t want to fight him. “It’s not that they’re (scared). There’s not a guy on the roster that’s afraid of anybody. When someone says, ‘Joe Schmo is afraid of John Smith?’ Like, (expletive) no.”

Chiesa hasn’t fought since he improved his record to 16-4 with a win over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in January. That was ‘Maverick’’s third win in a row, the other two coming against former title challengers Diego Sanchez and Carlos Condit. Chiesa’s last loss was back in 2018, via an Anthony Pettis submission.