In fact, Muhammad continuously asked for the chance to face Chimaev and thought he nearly landed the matchup back in March when the UFC hinted at a main event slot for the promotion’s return to London. Unfortunately for Muhammad, the fight never materialized but he never gave up hope on ending the hype surrounding the undefeated Chechen.
Following a convincing win over Vicente Luque in April, Muhammad renewed his calls for the fight against Chimaev, but says he kept hearing excuses why the bout wasn’t put together.
“I’m sitting there like Khamzat is not booked. Why am I not fighting Khamzat?” Muhammad said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “That makes the most sense in the world because at the time, we’re the only two guys in the top five that haven’t fought Kamaru [Usman] yet. You’re hyping him up. I was calling for the Khamzat fight before Luque. I wanted to fight Khamzat. Even before the ‘Wonderboy’ [Stephen Thompson] fight I was like let me fight Khamzat and they kept just brushing it off.
“I was like OK, I just beat No. 5 [ranked fighter] in the world, he just beat No. 3 in the world with Gilbert [Burns], this makes the most sense. I thought that was going to happen. The whole time I’m calling for it, I’m hearing he has visa issues, he’s not going to fight. Then you started hearing the rumors about him and Nate Diaz and how does that make any sense?”
Despite repeated calls to face Chimaev in his next fight, Muhammad just couldn’t get the UFC to commit to the matchup and that’s when he started hearing the name Sean Brady instead.
With a perfect 15-0 record, Brady is considered one of the best prospects in the welterweight division but doesn’t have the same kind of name power or resume as Chimaev.
Of course, when Brady got the call with an offer to potentially face Muhammad, he was more than happy to accept and that’s when a back-and-forth war of words started on social media.
“You see Sean Brady calling me out on Twitter and I’m like I’m not going to give this guy any attention but the southside Chicago comes out and you’re like let me start responding to him,” Muhammad said. “We were supposed to fight before so when he’s saying stupid stuff like ‘you’re running from me,’ I’m like didn’t you pull out of the first fight?
“Then he has some loser manager on there starting to tweet out and then you get the trashy people from Philly commenting on my post ‘you’re scared.’ I’m like these guys are straight up losers. I’m going to wait for Khamzat or Gilbert.”
While Gilbert Burns was coming off a loss in a barnburner with Chimaev in May, Muhammad preferred that matchup because the Brazilian is a one-time title challenger who still occupies a spot among the best welterweights in the UFC.
Before long, Muhammad started to see the writing on the wall about that fight not happening either but he still held out hope that Chimaev would end up as his opponent.
“You see Gilbert and [Jorge] Masvidal talking about fighting each other,” Muhammad said. “Obviously, if you’re Gilbert, Masvidal is a money fight and it’s a way easier fight than I am so that’s getting attention now, that’s getting annoying so me and Khamzat still makes the most sense cause they still hadn’t booked the Nate Diaz fight.
“Then my manager called me, ‘I want to get you on Abu Dhabi [at UFC 280], it will be huge for you’ and the last time I fought there was amazing. I always wanted to go back, especially now and then they sold me on Abu Dhabi and I was like me and Khamzat there, that would be huge.”
That’s when Muhammad was told yet again that Chimaev wasn’t available.
“Khamzat’s still having issues, he’s not going to fight right now and all they have is Sean Brady,” Muhammad said. “That’s the only one they have right now. Obviously, that’s the one the UFC’s trying to push on me.
“He has hype in the MMA community, he’s 15-0. Fans don’t really know who he is but the MMA community knows who he is. He has hype from fighters. He’s a guy the UFC thinks can be a champion so I if I go out there and walk through him, I’m not afraid to fight him. If I think I can be a champion, I have to go through everybody. I figured I’ll take it, let’s go.”
While beating Brady won’t earn him the same kind of accolades as earning a win over Chimaev, Muhammad was just tired of waiting and didn’t want to end up sitting out until 2023 just waiting for a fight.
As for Chimaev, he did eventually get matched up with Diaz. Muhammad saw the writing on the wall as soon as that fight got announced.
“The Khamzat thing was they wanted to guarantee Khamzat a win so then they could give him the title shot next,” Muhammad said. “Cause if he fights me, I’m a tough matchup for him and they showed in the Gilbert fight by the fourth or fifth round, he’s going to slow down against anybody.
“I think they wanted to make sure to secure him a victory so we can definitely get that Usman fight, we can get some of Diaz’s fans.”
As it turns out, Chimaev didn’t end up with the Diaz fight either after he had a disastrous weight cut that ultimately scrapped the bout just 24 hours prior to the event. Chimaev ultimately dispatched Kevin Holland in a short-notice catchweight fight and since that time, he’s been pondering a potential move up to middleweight.
If Chimaev sticks around at welterweight, Muhammad would still be interested in that fight but right now he can only think about Brady and their matchup at UFC 280.
“I want to just focus on [Sean Brady] and let’s see how it plays out with these other guys in the next couple of months,” Muhammad said. “But yeah, it’s going to be interesting what happens with this division.”