Robert Whittaker would accept a ‘showstopper’ fight against Khamzat Chimaev.
Following their respective wins over Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland at UFC Paris and UFC 279 this past September, Whittaker and Chimaev have found themselves in similar situations regarding prospective opponents. The ‘Reaper’ signed on to fight Paulo Costa at UFC 284 on Saturday, but that fight was canceled after negotiations between ‘Borrachinha’ and the promotion fell through. ‘Borz’ has claimed that four fighters, including Colby Covington, have turned him down, so he has ‘no clue’ when he expects to return to the Octagon.
With Whittaker and Chimaev in limbo, the latter presented an idea: if no one would fight them, then they should fight each other.
“I think I will fight Robert Whittaker,” said Chimaev in a recent interview with Red Corner MMA. “He’s got no opponent. Paulo Costa ran away after talking that much about me and Robert, so I will fight Whittaker. I want this fight. Although I like him as a human being. He is a solid guy, doesn’t talk trash, doesn’t cross any lines. We are going to have fun at the press conference and fight each other.”
In response to Chimaev, the former UFC middleweight champion expressed interest in the fight.
“Oh yeah, cool,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “Let’s do it. Whatever. Yeah, I don’t know. Like, if it’s a fight that gets presented to me, then it is what it is. Yeah, I think it’d be a good fight. I think he’d be a hard fight. I think he’s a phenomenal fighter. I think he has a lot of strengths. I think I have a lot of strengths. I think I’m a hard fighter for him just the same. I’m quite good with my hands, can stuff a lot of takedowns. I’m hard to hold down. I’m squirmy, you see.
“Yeah, it’ll be an interesting fight,” continued Whittaker. “That’ll be a showstopper, for sure. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of people interested and excited.”
Though unsure it will get him another championship opportunity, Whittaker is sure he vs. Chimaev would be a must-see.
“The reason why it would be a fight that’s worth making is because he’s riding the hype train, and because UFC want to bring this guy, who’s the boogeyman to a lot of guys, up in the rankings,” said Whittaker. “They want him to fight me at the top of the chain so that it opens the door to whoever wins, and then jump behind. That’s the only reason it makes sense.”
As for other opponents, Whittaker is aiming for the winner of Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya II, which was confirmed to headline UFC 287 in April. However, the 32-year-old says he is in a ‘tricky position’ because he wants to stay active, so waiting around for ‘Po Atan’ or the ‘Last Stylebender’ is not ideal.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)