Khamzat Chimaev has been impatiently waiting for the UFC to find his next opponent so he’s doing some work on his own to secure a fight that could earn him a title shot.
On Wednesday, the undefeated Chechen called for a showdown against ex-UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker as both fighters currently sit without a fight already booked.
“Good guy vs. bad guy, let’s make it happen,” Chimaev posted on Instagram. “Only respect, Robert Whittaker.”
In the past, Chimaev didn’t sound all that interested in facing Whittaker because he actually liked the veteran middleweight and he preferred possibly training together rather than facing off in the octagon.
“I like that guy so, I don’t want to fight the good guys, you know?” Chimaev said at the UFC 279 post-fight press conference this past September. “I need some bad guy, so I want to fight some bad guy, you know, and don’t feel sorry for that. I want to train with that guy, he’s really good like, you know, one of the best guys in the world.”
With fights at both middleweight and welterweight in the UFC, Chimaev was previously teasing a potential showdown with multi-time title challenger Colby Covington but the matchup never got booked. Now, it appears Chimaev is turning his attention back to 185 pounds with hopes that perhaps he could take on Whittaker instead.
Following the respectful call out from Chimaev, Whittaker responded and it sounds like he’s more than happy to accept the fight as he’s also been waiting on a call from the UFC after his previously scheduled bout against Paulo Costa fell apart ahead of UFC 284 in Australia.
“Let’s do it,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “Whatever. Yeah, I don’t know. Like, if it’s a fight that gets presented to me, then it is what it is. Yeah, I think it’d be a good fight. I think he’d be a hard fight. I think he’s a phenomenal fighter. I think he has a lot of strengths. I think I have a lot of strengths. I think I’m a hard fighter for him just the same. And I’m quite good with my hands, can stuff a lot of takedowns. I’m hard to hold down. I’m squirmy, you see. Yeah, it’ll be an interesting fight. That’ll be a showstopper for sure. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of people interested and excited.
“The reason why it would be a fight that’s worth making is because he’s riding the hype train, and because UFC want to bring this guy, who’s the boogeyman to a lot of guys, up in the rankings. They want him to fight me at the top of the chain so that it opens the door to whoever wins, and then jump behind. That’s the only reason it makes sense.”
After his fight against Costa was scrapped, Whittaker initially targeted a return to action in March but with all of those cards booked up, he’s once again stuck waiting on another fight to be presented to him.
A fight against Chimaev could potentially put Whittaker directly in line for another title shot, especially with reigning UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira already scheduled for a rematch against Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 in April.
The same could be said for Chimaev, who has been on the fast track to title contention ever since he made a huge splash with his arrival in the UFC. Chimaev currently boasts a perfect 12-0 record including wins over Gilbert Burns and Kevin Holland in 2022.