Stephen Thompson feels a bit disrespected by the push Khamzat Chimaev is receiving.
Although their UFC Vegas 17 fight on December 19 was postponed, Chimaev is expected to face the No. 3-ranked welterweight Leon Edwards next month in a bout that could have title implications.
That’s despite Chimaev only competing thrice in the UFC — and just once at welterweight — all against unranked opponents. “The Wolf” even managed to land a No. 15 welterweight ranking which simply doesn’t make sense for Thompson.
Thompson is notably ranked No. 5 and was initially looking to fight Edwards only to be passed over for Chimaev. And as far as “Wonderboy” is concerned, it’s a slap in the face to every contender in the division.
“I think he was ranked No. 15, which doesn’t make sense to me,” Thompson told MMA Junkie. “I know he’s had one fight in the welterweight division, and his opponent (Rhys McKee) is 0-2 right now and normally a lightweight, a 155er, so it just doesn’t make sense how this guy can jump past everybody who’s worked their behinds off to get to where they’re at, and now he’s ranked No. 15 fighting the No. 3 guy, I believe. It’s just ridiculous to me.
“I had to fight through murderer’s row to get to where I’m at and so did Leon Edwards. He was on a (eight-fight) winning streak to get to where he’s at. I had to fight a slew of guys, I mean tough opponents. Robert Whittaker, Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald, Johny Hendricks to get to where I’m at, and then this guy just jumps past everybody. I think it’s a slap in the face to everybody who’s worked their butts off.”
Thompson: Chimaev Will Get A Title Shot With A Win
Instead, Thompson is now set to face Geoff Neal in the UFC Vegas 17 headliner.
As for the Edwards vs. Chimaev fight, Thompson believes it’s a lose-lose for the former as a win wouldn’t really do much for the Birmingham native even if there was a slight chance at a title shot.
One thing is for sure though — if Chimaev wins, he will get a title shot.
“Guaranteed he’s probably gonna get a title shot if he beats Leon Edwards, and I kinda called this,” Thompson added. “I was wondering why they were pushing Khamzat so hard, and I was like watch Khabib retire, because they’re from the same neck of the woods, they got to please that market, so it kinda makes sense why they’re pushing him so hard.”
It’s certainly not out of the question to think that’s what the UFC is planning.