Khamzat Chimaev was one of the breakout stars of the UFC’s recent trip to Fight Island, and it looks like the promotion plans to strike while the iron is hot.
Following Friday’s official weigh-ins and staredowns for UFC Vegas 9, UFC President Dana White spoke to the media and Chimaev’s immediate future was one of the topics addressed.
Chimaev broke the record for shortest time between wins in July, submitting John Phillips in the second round of their middleweight fight on the 15th, and then picking up a first-round submission in a welterweight bout against Rhys McKee just 10 days later. The unbeaten 26-year-old Russian-Swede had fans and media going wild with fantasy booking, but it looks like the UFC’s matchmakers already have a lofty challenge in mind for him: Two-time UFC title challenger Demian Maia.
“We’re working on fight for him here [in Las Vegas], that’s still being worked,” White said. “But we’re talking about him and Demian Maia on Fight Island.”
According to White, Chimaev will be in Las Vegas this weekend and the plan is for him to take a fight at the UFC APEX soon, possibly in September. However, he didn’t have any details in regards to a potential APEX fight instead throwing out the potential date with Maia.
Maia, 42, recently saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Gilbert Burns at a Fight Night event in Brasilia, Brazil, this past March. Prior to that, he’d scored consecutive wins over Ben Askren, Anthony Rocco Martin, and Lyman Good. The Brazilian star has twice competed for UFC gold, challenging welterweight champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 214 and middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 112.
Neither of Chimaev’s proposed bookings appear close to being finalized just yet, but White is confident that fans will soon get to see the prospect compete in both Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.
“He’ll fight here and he’ll fight on Fight Island,” White said of Chimaev. “This guy wants to—I love that. I love that mentality.”