Fans desperately want to know when Khamzat Chimaev will make his eagerly anticipated return to the Octagon.
The fast-rising UFC star has been absent from competition ever since causing some controversy ahead of his previously scheduled main event showdown with Nate Diaz at UFC 279 in September. Chimaev stepped on the scale eight pounds overweight for the matchup forcing the UFC to shuffle things around at the last minute in an attempt to save the event from potential cancellation. Fortunately, things worked out and Chimaev went on to score a dominant win over last-minute opponent Kevin Holland.
Since then, everyone has been wondering not only when we will see Khamzat Chimaev again, but in what weight class. Appearing on Submission Radio with Kacper Rosolowski and Denis Shkuratov, Chimaev’s coach Andreas Michael offered some answers to the questions that have been weighing on the minds of Chimaev fans since last year.
“He just wants to do the Ramadan and he’s focusing on his religion and after that, he’s gonna start,” Michael said when discussing Chimaev’s return to the Octagon. “So all respect to that and we’re just ready to go when he gets back.”
Michael did reveal that Chimaev had started training camp a few months back as rumors began to swirl that he would be squaring off with newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira.
“We were getting ready for Pereira,” Michael revealed. “Yeah, that fell out. Everyone’s calling out Khamzat. I know he’s probably the money fight now so we don’t take a lot of that serious. We don’t take any of that serious to be honest with you because if the top dogs took all the callouts seriously, they’ll be like… It has to make sense. Every time you fight, you only have a certain amount of fights in you. In your whole lifetime so make them count. He’s not on that stage now where he’s just gonna show that he’s tough and take on people that don’t pave you forward. They just keep you stagnated.”
— MMA Orbit (@mma_orbit) February 20, 2023
Andreas Michael Discusses the Status of Khamzat Chimaev vs. Robert Whittaker
With UFC president Dana White’s announcement that Alex Pereira will defend his 185-pound title in a rematch against former champion Israel Adesanya this April, Khamzat Chimaev has seemingly moved on, calling out former titleholder and perennial contender Robert Whittaker for a potential showdown on social media.
“There’s nobody else left. For me guys, I would prefer a title shot. Go right to the meat and potatoes. I just want to go for it directly if I had to choose, but Robert Whittaker didn’t have a fight. He was one of the few that was free at the moment, but that didn’t materialize either for different reasons. The guy was looking for a fight. He’s an amazing guy and a great fight as well. A great fighter. Khamzat wanted it. He wants to fight everyone actually so we have to pull the reins in a little bit, but that’s our job. To make sense of everything happening.”
Though he could not 100% confirm, Michael stated that despite interest from both fighters on social media, the UFC did not appear to offer the bout to either fighter or make any real attempt to facilitate the matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Robert Whittaker. One thing Michael was able to confirm is that Chimaev will be making the jump from welterweight to middleweight following his severely botched weight cut ahead of UFC 279 in September. However, a return to welterweight is certainly possible, particularly if UFC gold is on the line.
“He’s getting strong for the new weight class. It’s middleweight. He’s gonna fight at middleweight, but if a title shot comes up at welterweight, miracles can happen and it will happen. We’ll get him down, don’t worry.”