Khamzat Chimaev is yet to fight in 2023, but he still sees himself as the biggest fish in the sea.
UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards is expected to defend his title against Colby Covington in the near future, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya still awaits his next opponent, and Chimaev rival Paulo Costa has an announced date with the recently debuted Ikram Aliskerov — news which seems to have left Chimaev with an obvious dance partner.
Chimaev is hoping to face former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 21, but nothing has been made official for the undefeated “Borz,” and he let out some of his frustration on his UFC peers on YouTube.
“There’s no money fights anymore, it’s only me,” Chimaev said. “Because Leon Edwards doesn’t give you that much money. If you fight with me, everyone knows it’s the money fight.
“Leon has the title, so he said he wants to fight, but I don’t know what the UFC wants to do. They give Colby that chance. When did he win his last fight? I don’t remember. Who did he win against? Nobody. He’s a nobody, he wins against nobody. Usman broke his chin two times. He knocked him down, that guy. He’s s***. They give him that chance maybe because he’s from the USA, they want the belt for him. I’m from Sweden, living in Dubai, so maybe they don’t want to give that belt to me. That’s the only thing I see, I don’t know what else. Maybe they have good plans for me, I don’t know. I trust the guys, so we’ll see.”
The Costa vs. Aliskerov announcement had to be particularly confounding for Chimaev, given that a potential matchup between the Chimaev and Costa has been frequently discussed by fans, the media, and the fighters themselves. Chimaev wants the fight for personal reasons, not because he has any respect for Costa’s accomplishments.
“Paulo has spoken a lot of s*** about me,” Chimaev said. “I want to smash him, I want to kill this guy, do a lot of things. He goes to fight with another guy [Aliskerov], I fight him a long time before, three or four years ago before the UFC, I won against that guy. So I think the guy will beat him as well. Paulo is not good. He is s***. He just talks too much. He beat nobody. A close fight against Romero, only fighter that he wins against [that I know]. Other people I don’t know, nobody knows those guys, I don’t know who he beat.
“All of these guys, they fight nobody. They are nobody, so for me it’s just go and take over. I’m here. Everyone’s talking, ‘I fight, I fight.’ Nobody fights, what are you doing here? It’s just a game of fight. Let me fight, finish somebody, make my money.”
Chimaev is undefeated in 12 pro bouts, most recently scoring a quick submission of Kevin Holland at UFC 279 this past September. That bout was contested at 180 pounds after Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds for what was supposed to be a main event welterweight clash with Nate Diaz. The top three fights were reshuffled to keep everyone on the card, with Chimaev instead fighting Holland and Diaz staying in the headlining spot where he defeated Tony Ferguson.
Prior to that mishap, Chimaev had established himself as a title threat in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions, with all but one (a unanimous decision win over Gilbert Burns) of his career victories ending inside the distance. Despite his recent inactivity, Chimaev still sees UFC gold as guaranteed.
“I want to fight for the title, so for me it doesn’t matter which weight class,” Chimaev said. “I can go , but I don’t want to make weight for a nobody at , why am I going to do that? I’m No. 3 — actually, that number for me is nothing. I feel I’m the king of this weight class and I’m the king of  as well. So just give me a title shot. I’m ready for both. I’m ready for Usman, I’m ready Leon, I’m ready for Israel [Adesanya]. Doesn’t matter. I’m ready for everybody. Just ask Dana [White] when I say no. Never. I want to fight. I am the best, and when you feel you’re the best you have to fight with the best, everyone.
“For Israel, there’s nobody there. Only me. So money, if you spoke about money, if you ask the fans, they want to see me and Israel. I’m a bad matchup for him. Everyone knows he’s going to lose the title, that’s why they saved that guy. They built him up, they don’t want to lose him that fast. I finish that guy without a punch, that guy. That’s why they’re scared. Then the story is dead, they don’t want to kill that guy. Maybe the guy makes money for them. But I still make money as well, so I don’t know what’s going on. Who is he going to fight? There is nobody. He wins again, all the strikers, and now I’m a wrestler, a killer. I squeeze the heads off my opponents.”