Paulo Costa vs Chimaev targeted for UFC Abu Dhabi after last-minute Ikram Aliskerov drop out

A blockbuster clash between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev is reportedly on the cards for UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on October 21. The news comes after Costa’s withdrawal from his middleweight bout against Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291, scheduled for July 29.

The reason behind Costa’s sudden withdrawal remains veiled in secrecy, but speculations have been running wild since he posted a cryptic tweet. Many fans and experts are now thinking that Costa’s decision might have been a strategic move to set the stage for an epic showdown with Chimaev later in the year.

According to MMA content creator Melotto, Paulo Costa has officially inked the contract to face Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294:

“Exclusive: Paulo Borrachinha has signed a contract to face Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi after his bout with Ikram Aliskerov failed to materialize.”

Paulo Costa is entering the octagon with a wave of momentum behind him, following an impressive decision victory over former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. On the other hand, Khamzat Chimaev has been absent from the octagon since his last bout against Kevin Holland in September 2022.

Fans have been eagerly waiting for Chimaev’s return, and the showdown against Costa promises to be a spectacular comeback for him.

However, there had also been speculations about Khamzat competing against Jared Cannonier in his next matchup.

Chimaev’s coach Azamat Dugulubgov seemed to have accidentally revealed his next opponent when he posted a story along with the caption: “Already studying the next opponent for the Borz.”

The story was then reposted by Khamzat Chimaev. Dugulubgov took measures by blurring the opponent’s picture on his screen, but internet MMA fans relentlessly searched for hints and eventually found the exact same frame.

At the press conference for UFC Vegas 75, Jared Cannonier had previously said: “I’m trying to get to the title. I’m not just fighting to entertain you people. I know you guys want to see it. I know it’ll be a good fight. If that fight gets me the title shot, yes. I just beat number three, I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. So, if Dana [White] and Hunter [Campbell] say, ‘[Khamzat’s] between you and the champion, that’s something we can talk about.”

Now, it remains to be seen who Khamzat Chimaev’s next opponent would be.