Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington has all the makings of a classic but Robert Whittaker thinks it’s a terrible matchup for Covington on paper.
Whittaker thinks Covington will do a great job selling the fight in the media but that, come fight night, he will get dominated and lose badly due to Khamzat being able to stuff the majority of his takedowns and dictate where the action takes place.
‘The Reaper’ is looking forward to the proposed No. 1 contender’s bout from an entertainment perspective but thinks it’s a huge mismatch in favor of Khamzat, who is considered one of the most naturally talented fighters in the UFC and a potential future champion.
“Media-wise, I think it’ll be a spectacle,” Whittaker, the former UFC middleweight champion, told Submission Radio in a recent interview. “Yeah, expect the full circus. And that’ll be fun in itself. Those things, whilst I don’t like prioritizing them in a sport, as a sportsman and as someone in the industry, for the sport and for the UFC as a whole, having those characters, those personalities and things, it just brings eyes. It’s just great for all the other athletes. You know, within reason.”
“Now, stylistically, fight-wise, I think that’s a terrible fight for Colby. Terrible. Because you saw with Usman that anyone Colby can’t just relentlessly spam takedowns on, it becomes a kickboxing fight and a striking match. And I think Covington’s great at what he does, but he’s not a kickboxer, he’s not a striker by trade. That doesn’t come naturally to him.“
“His pressure style and wrestling style is what comes naturally to him,” he added. “Khamzat can counter-wrestle Colby. He’s a big dude with long range and a lot of reach, and his striking is nothing ridiculously crazy, but it’s put together at a high level. And he integrates that with the threat of his wrestling and grappling takedowns stupendously. So, I think Khamzat for Colby is a bad match-up.”
“I think that’s due to the fact that it’s more about the people he’s fighting. Like, he’s a smart guy. And his fight IQ is very high. You can see that, regardless of how he portrays himself, he’s a smart guy when he’s in there. And so he knows who he can unload on and pull the trigger and who he cannot. I would back Khamzat for sure. I think it’s a bad match-up for Colby.”
The matchup hasn’t been confirmed but Dana White strongly hinted that the fight will take place in the U.K. next year, possibly in London.
As for Whittaker, the Aussie will return to the Octagon in February when he is slated to face one-time title challenger and former No. 1 middleweight contender Paulo Costa at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.