The Khamzat Chimaev sweepstakes at middleweight is on hold for right now as the star prepares for a welterweight fight against Leon Edwards in December, but should he come back up in weight, Ian Heinisch will be waiting.
Heinisch, who is currently ranked at No. 15 in the middleweight division, already has a fight in front of him against Brendan Allen at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Teixeira set to take place this Saturday night. Although he is focused on Allen at the moment, Heinisch is still surveying the rest of the division to see who will possibly be next for him after this fight, and Chimaev is a name at the top of his list.
Part of the reason why Heinisch is interested in the fight is because of all the constant talk of the supposed unwillingness by the rest of the division to fight Chimaev. A consistent claim made by Chimaev is that he has been turned down left and right from fighters at both 170 and 185 pounds, which is what has kept him away from competition in the last couple of months.
Heinisch does not believe this is true because there has been a number of fighters who have offered to fight Chimaev, including himself.
Appearing on a recent episode of Just Scrap Radio hosted by Cole Shelton of BJPENN.COM, Heinisch reiterated his stance on fighting Chimaev and sent a message to the UFC brass for the next time they are in the market for an opponent for him.
“I feel like Khamzat is good, man,” said Heinisch. “He’s game. He’s got the mentality. I think it would be a fun matchup because I’m gonna meet him in the middle and we’re gonna fight for real. If he really wants to test himself — if these top ten guys [and] top five guys don’t want to fight him, I’m a top 15 guy and I’ll be available. I’ll make myself available if he’s ready.
“I know Dana White can move some things around. I’ll be ready if they call me in and said, ‘You’re gonna fight him tomorrow’. I’m ready, so I just want people to know out there if Khamzat wants to fight, if he needs a fight, I would love to accept that challenge.”
Fighting someone in the top 15 of the division has been used as somewhat of a litmus test for fighters who are seen as the “next big thing” in the sport, so a Heinisch versus Chimaev fight could very well answer a lot of questions. Should both men get past their upcoming opponents, it will be interesting to see if this is the direction the UFC will take with the matchmaking of their latest breakout fighter.