Khamzat Chimaev says Brazilian fans will be on his side in Abu Dhabi when he faces Paulo Costa at UFC 294.
The Chechen star took his first verbal shots at Costa three months out from their showdown on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi. In an interview with TNT Sports, Chimaev said his middleweight debut arrived when other fights fell through and promised to take it out on Costa.
“I’m going to make that guy cry in the cage, like I always do,” he said. “I make everyone scared. [Kamaru] Usman said, ‘He’s the boogie man,’ and all these guys think that about me, but when it comes to the fight, they have some surgeries, some problems.
“So, I don’t know, I fight with everybody. Ask [UFC President] Dana White, I never say no. ... I’ve been out for a long time, so I’ve been training all the time. When big money comes, maybe it’s hard to make fights for me.”
Chimaev has targeted fights from welterweight to light heavyweight and said making 170 pounds isn’t an issue despite his high-profile weight miss before UFC 279.
“I can go down to 170, I just need some time,” he said. “Not like last time, give me four weeks.”
Costa originally was scheduled to face Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291, but the bout failed to materialize, and his repeated callouts of Chimaev netted a booking instead at UFC 294. Ranked No. 7 in the promotion’s middleweight rankings (and No. 8 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings), Costa presents Chimaev a bridge to a potential shot at champ Israel Adesanya. That opportunity isn’t lost on the Chechen fighter.
“If he stays the champ, of course I’ve got my eye on him,” Chimaev said. “All the champs are in my eye. I want to have my belts, at least three belts.”
But in the meantime, Chimaev’s mission is to make a statement in his current division at 185 pounds.
“Nobody likes him,” Chimaev said of Costa. “All the Brazilians support me. That guy is not Brazilian. So I’m going to go smash this guy, make him cry.”