Khamzat Chimaev starred in what is being widely talked about as the fight of the year so far when he went the distance with Gilbert Burns at UFC 273.
It was the toughest test of Chimaev’s career so far, with the man from Sweden getting bloody with the Brazilian.
The win saw Chimaev jump from number 11 in the Welterweight division straight to the number three spot.
Now, when he looks up, all he sees is the top-ranked UFC pound for pound fighter, Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards – who Dana White says will get his title shot next – and Colby Covington.
The Welterweight division is currently one of the most exciting in the promotion, with the rapidly rising star and celebrity of Chimaev only adding to the buzz.
Khamzat has just jumped eight places, meaning he’s now in the eye line of a lot of fighters – non less than Burns, who has already said that he hopes Chimaev will show the same amount of courtesy that he showed him, and accept a rematch.
Could Chimaev’s next fight be against Colby Covington?
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It seems like Chimaev himself certainly wants the fight with Covington.
Taking to Instagram on April 13 he put up an image of a mock fight poster of him and Covington with the caption “Let’s goooo”.
On the poster Chimaev is surrounded by ferocious looking wolves while Covington is surrounded by armed riot police – it seems the trash talk has already begun.
For Chimaev the route is clear – fight Covington and secure what would likely be a sure shot at a title challenge.
Ahead of his bout with Burns, White said that the promotion was already looking into Khamzat’s next fight should he go on and win, and that would be against Covington.
Speaking on the Pat McAfee Show he said: "I think if Khamzat Chimaev wins this weekend, we see him and Colby Covington next.
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“So I have a fight coming up on ABC. In a perfect world, if everything plays out right, I would love to do Khamzat vs. Colby (there) if Khazmat should win on Saturday night.”
So there you have it – the powers that be have had this particular fight in mind since before Chimaev’s bloody and epic war with Burns. There is however one more thing to consider – what would Covington think about it?
Is Chimeav a good fight for Colby Covington?
Not everyone thinks this fight is a good idea, however. Promoter Chael Sonnen has stressed that unless a fight with Chimaev would guarantee a title shot for Covington, he shouldn’t take it.
Speaking on his YouTube Channel, he said: “That could only happen if it’s a No. 1 contenders fight.
“I don’t know how you’re going to get Colby, who is ranked No.1 – everybody ranked No. 1 gets to fight for a world championship except Colby Covington.
“So, what do you give that guy? You’re gonna put him in the main event, now he’s going to 25 minutes? 25 minutes with Chimaev. Chimaev and Colby, because of the way they fight, 25 minutes changes your life.”
But for Covington, there’s a problem. He’s only lost two in his last 11 fights, but they are both against Usman, making a trilogy seem an unlikely next move for the American.
It’s because of Chimaev’s almost certain title shot were he to fight and beat Covington that Sonnen believes Colby should have a major incentive in order to take the fight in the first place.
“I’m only asking you, for what? There’s a point in your career where because to compete, for nothing else.
“But when you start winning main events and you keep winning main events like Colby just did, you’re the interim champion, you never lose, they take your belt away. You beat the ‘BMF’ champ but they never put the strap around you. In all fairness, at some point, Colby is gonna have to put his foot down.”
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