UFC welterweight Michael Chiesa has explained why fighting Khamzat Chimaev isn’t something he’s interested in right now.
Chiesa, 32, is riding a three-fight winning streak since making the move up to 170 pounds with victories over Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez and Rafael dos Anjos. On the flip side, Chimaev has made an instant impact in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with two wins at middleweight and one at welterweight across the last few months.
With many expecting Chimaev to take a big step up in competition for his next fight, Chiesa has noted why it probably won’t be him.
“You’ve got to think about it like this,” Chiesa told reporters on Wednesday (via MMA Junkie). “He beats a guy, like a veteran – let’s say, theoretically, he beats a ‘Wonderboy.’ Now, it’s lucrative. Now, it’s like, ‘Hell yeah.’ Now, he’s proven he’s the real thing.”
“If he beats me, he takes my spot. If I beat him, they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a flash in the pan.’ You know what I mean?” Chiesa added. “I probably don’t move up the rankings either. It’s like, dude, I’m trying to fight for a world title. You’ve got to do smart business. … The guy is legit. I respect his skills. I just don’t know if that’s the fight I want right now. He beats a guy and gets ranked? That’s a different story.
“I can see why all these guys don’t want to fight him,” Chiesa concluded. “It’s not that they’re (scared). There’s not a guy on the roster that’s afraid of anybody. When someone says, ‘Joe Schmo is afraid of John Smith?’ Like, (expletive) no.”
Along with Chiesa, another man who has been talking about Chimaev lately is Khabib Nurmagomedov, with the lightweight king recognizing his ability.
“He finish all his opponents, what do you think?” Nurmagomedov said on Chimaev. “Ali told me he’s going fight with tough opponent, five rounds in December. This is very interesting. Main event in UFC, this is very good attention and good opportunity for him, and if he wins this fight, next fight I think he deserves contender fight.”
Michael Chiesa and Khabib Nurmagomedov are two of the many fighters who understand why Khamzat Chimaev has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in the UFC over the course of the next few years.