Following the 7.5lbs weight miss(178.5lbs), Khamzat Chimaev has hinted at a move to middleweight (185lbs).
Chimaev has posted about a move to middleweight, however nothing’s certain as of right now. However this didn’t stop Chimaev from poking holes in the game of current champion Israel Adesanya.
With the welterweight division locked up waiting on a rematch between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards (rumored to be happening in March of 2023) the move makes sense.
Chimaev is convinced that he is prepared to move up and compete for a championship because he feels he can take the champion’s “head off.”
Chimaev told Henry Cejudo:
“Yeah, I’m ready for him. I still don’t know when I see his last fight, I told the guys, ‘He’s an easy fight for me.’ How he fights, how he fights a guy.”
“It’s like, for me, makes comfortable when I see the fight. He gets taken down and then he gives his back to the guy who’s not a wrestler, not like ground guy. All his fights he’s doing only standup. What’s his name? Robert Whittaker take his back. When I see that, if I take his back, I’ll take off his head.”
And Chimaev does have a point – the one loss Adesanya has came from Jan Blachowicz who was methodical in checking the leg kicks and in using well timed takedowns to then control Adesanya on the ground.
Adesanya is currently a purple belt in bjj under ATOS but he’s rumored to be a subpar grappler mostly relying on spazzing out of submissions.
Chimaev’s one fault thus far has been lack of patience and discipline and this could cost him quite a bit against someone as methodical and as strategic as Adesanya. Not to mention middleweight might be having a new champion after UFC 281 when Adesanya is booked to meet former kickboxing foe Alex Pereira.
Adesanya previously accurately called the move Chimaev would use to submit Holland indicating he’s been following the welterweight prospect. In addition to this Adesanya addressed the match saying:
“I don’t have to take him seriously till I have to take him seriously and that’s a guy that definitely I’d like to fight if he does what he says he wants to do.”
“Because guess what? He’ll bring in a lot of eyes. That’s how it all starts, those are the ones who are crazy enough to make it happen. He’s on his way, but show me something first. At the moment, still, it’s just barking in the wind ‘cause who’s he fought at 185? He can beat a lot of these top guys at 185, but let me see it first.”
Considering the altercation Chimaev had with Paulo Costa it would be a shoe in to schedule Costa against him. Not to mention Costa is on the last bout of his contract and has indicated he’d like to test free agency due to the fact that his previous UFC contract was pretty bad,