UFC CEO Dana White has officially announced that the winner of the upcoming middleweight co-headliner featuring former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and undefeated sensation Khamzat Chimaev will earn the opportunity to challenge the reigning middleweight titleholder, Sean Strickland.
Earlier today, White revealed that the highly anticipated middleweight clash between Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa has been called off. This unfortunate development arose after Costa underwent a third surgical procedure to address a persistent bursitis infection in his elbow.
In response to the setback, the UFC swiftly arranged a middleweight showdown between Chimaev and Kamaru Usman. This bout is now officially recognized as a title eliminator and is scheduled to headline UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, UAE next weekend.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Sports reporter Kevin Iole, Dana White reiterated that the winner between Usman and Chimaev will be granted the opportunity to face the middleweight champion Sean Strickland.
White stated: “Who knows how they’ll (Kamaru Usman or Khamzat Chimaev) approach it, but you have to think that with the (Paulo) Costa fight, Khamzat probably had to be thinking about going out and taking him down. But with Usman and his wrestling, it could actually turn into more of a stand-up war.”
White continued: “This is what fighting should be. I don’t know if you saw what Khabib (Nurmagomedov) said. He said, ‘Brother, we are UFC champions, you fight King Kong if he makes weight.’ That’s what makes fighting so fun. They’re all taking these fights just over a week out and they’re all accepting risk. They believe in themselves.”
“And to my way of thinking, this is what makes sport so great, when you have world champions or guys who are top five in the world and that’s their mindset. When that’s the case, there’s no better sport in the world. That’s what makes the UFC so great, the mentality of these fighters.”
Sean Strickland became the recently crowned undisputed middleweight champion. He won the title at UFC 293 in September with a remarkable victory over two-time champion Israel Adesanya.