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Dana White: Khamzat Chimaev close to a ‘possible championship,’ UFC trying to book him one more fight for 2021

UFC 268 Press Conference Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Don’t be surprised if you see Khamzat Chimaev back in the cage before the end of the 2021.

UFC president Dana White told TSN on Friday following UFC 268’s ceremonial weigh-ins that the promotion is working to book a fight that would bring back Chimaev during the final stretch of the year.

“Yes,” White answered simply when asked if fans will see Chimaev again in 2021. The UFC boss followed up by adding that matchmakers are “trying to” get a fight finalized, although he didn’t specify an opponent.

There will be five UFC events remaining in 2021 following the conclusion of UFC 268’s star-studded pay-per-view on Saturday night in New York. The final pay-per-view of the year, UFC 269, takes place on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas.

Chimaev competed last week at UFC 267, where he steamrolled over welterweight contender Li Jingliang in just three minutes en route to a rear-naked choke victory that propelled his octagon record to a perfect 4-0. The bout ended a 11-month layoff for the Chechen prospect and reignited excitement around an undefeated talent who has already strung together one of the most impressive statistical starts to a UFC career ever.

Chimaev, of course, is no stranger to quick turnarounds. “The Wolf” fought his first two UFC bouts over a span of 10 days in July 2020, winning both with ease.

In total, the 27-year-old Chimaev has outstruck his UFC opposition by a stunning margin of 254-2 in total strikes over his first four octagon outings and dominated in control time 11:56 to zero. The hot start has fans clamoring for Chimaev to be fast-tracked to instant UFC title contention, and Chimaev this week debuted on MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings as the No. 10-ranked welterweight in the world.

With UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman set to rematch Colby Covington on Saturday at UFC 268, White was asked whether Chimaev could be next if Usman defends his title once again over Covington. And although White pushed back on that idea, he did acknowledge that Chimaev is likely only one or two steps away from competing for gold.

“I don’t know if Chimaev is ready for that yet,” White said of Usman. “Chimaev just broke into the top 10 by fighting a No. 11 [ranked contender]. It’s a whole other ballgame when you get into the top 10 and you start fighting [No.] 5 and up. He’s one or two fights away from a possible championship.”