Khamzat Chimaev made an instant reputation with the UFC for his willingness to fight anyone at anytime. The Chechen-born Allstar Training Center product ran out three straight wins between the middleweight and welterweight divisions in just three months back in 2020, turning himself into one of the promotion’s most hyped prospects along the way.
While a wicked case of COVID and a climb toward title contention have slowed the pace of his bookings lately, it doesn’t seem to have dampened Chimaev’s desire to chase down bigger and better challenges. Including, apparently, a potential fight with likely middleweight title challenger Alex Pereira.
As it’s turned out, the UFC has totally different plans for Chimaev—with the July 19th announcement that he’ll be facing Nate Diaz in the main event UFC 279 this coming September. That’s probably for the best, considering Pereira’s reaction to ‘Borz’ calling for a fight between them. By all accounts, the Brazilian was anything other than impressed.
“Look at this guy,” Pereira said of Chimaev’s tweet in a recent interview on MMA Fighting’s Trocacao Franca podcast. “I’m going to fight for the belt, it’s guaranteed. He wants to attention. ‘Oh, I wanna fight this guy.’ He knows I’m the next contender and he still says something like that. I’d like to see [what he would do] if Dana White came out and said, ‘Alex, your shot at Adesanya is guaranteed but he wants some time to prepare, so fight this guy first because he wants to fight you. Your title shot is still guaranteed.’ Let’s see what he would say.
“[Chimaev] wants attention because he knows it doesn’t make sense. I’m going to go back and fight him when I’m already guaranteed for the belt? He wants attention, but he’ll have to take a number and go back to the line.”
“These guys wanna make a name for themselves [by talking],” Pereira added. “If I wasn’t going to fight for the belt already and he said something like that, hats off to him. But the way he’s doing it, he’s a coward. He’s a coward seeking attention.”
No word yet on just when fans might expect to see Pereira face off against Adesanya in the Octagon. However, ‘Poatan’ already holds a pair of victories over the ‘Last Stylebender’ from their kickboxing days, adding a serious layer of intrigue to their first meeting under MMA rules. Couple that with Pereira’s 3-0 UFC run, including a spectacular KO over Sean Strickland earlier this month, and UFC president Dana White has essentially guaranteed that the UFC is making him the next defense of Adesanya’s title.
“I f-cking guarantee you. I absolutely, positively guarantee you that the next fight that Israel Adesanya fights will be bat-sh-t nuts,” White told the assembled media at the UFC on ABC 3: Ortega vs. Rodriguez post-fight presser, speaking of Pereira.
In the meantime, Chimaev will just have to settle for his upcoming battle with Diaz, and the very likely welterweight title shot that will await him if he comes out of that booking with his hand raised.