Khamzat Chimaev may be turning his attention to the middleweight division but that won’t stop him from firing back at welterweights still dropping his name.
Prior to UFC 286 on Saturday, Colby Covington spoke to reporters and addressed a potential matchup against Chimaev after UFC president Dana White said for months that was the fight the promotion wanted to book. Obviously the fight never came together and now Covington has been declared the No. 1 contender at 170 pounds while Chimaev is targeted for a return to action in October at middleweight.
“He’s a f****** joke,” Covington said about Chimaev. “The guy f****** sucks at fighting. He’s unprofessional and I don’t want to ever hear that guy’s name again.”
Covington’s ire mostly stemmed from Chimaev’s last appearance this past September when he was scheduled to face Nate Diaz but ultimately ended up fighting Kevin Holland instead after he failed to make the welterweight limit while hitting the scale at 178.5 pounds. In the aftermath of that incident, Chimaev is now expected to move to middleweight on a more permanent basis but he says that’s not for a lack of effort on his part to get the fight against Covington after it was offered to him several times.
“Colby’s lying, he doesn’t want to fight,” Chimaev said on his YouTube channel. “I swear with everything I have. I swear with God, I accept the fight four times and all Muslims understand I swear with the Koran. I get a call four times ‘do you want to fight?’ I said yes. I had a conversation with Sean Shelby as well, I can show it, [that] we’re going to fight with this guy and it never happened. There is no more.
“You can lie at press conferences and they make it a show. For me, I can’t lie to people. I am who I am, they like it, they don’t like it, I am who I am. That guy plays too much.”
According to Chimaev, he actually had the briefest of encounters with Covington when both fighters were working out of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
While there was no major confrontation, Chimaev claims they locked eyes for a moment but then Covington allegedly turned around and left before anything could be said.
“When I see him in the [UFC Performance Institute], when I see [him], he sees me, he turns around,” Chimaev said. “He ran somewhere I didn’t see him anymore.
“If he wants to fight, just come up like me. Try to come up. Everyone’s talking about that, he doesn’t want to fight him — I fight with everybody.”
It appears Chimaev is turning his focus on middleweight for the time being but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t jump at the chance to face Covington if the opportunity presented itself.
He believes if Covington really wanted to fight him, then they could agree on a weight class and make it happen but Chimaev is doubtful that bit of fantasy matchmaking will ever become reality.
“If he wants to fight, fight,” Chimaev said. “For me, weight class doesn’t matter. If somebody wants the fight — if UFC calls me to fight Brock Lesnar, I’ll fight with him. For me it doesn’t matter, fight everybody, whichever weight class the UFC wants, I’ll fight. I never choose my fights.
“These chickens they lie so much. So many guys speak on the internet ‘I want to fight Khamzat,’ but why am I standing here with no fights for half a year or more now.”
Chimaev still hasn’t booked his next fight, although White seemed confident that the Chechen mauler would compete again in October with the upcoming UFC 294 card planned in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 21.