Unbeaten phenom Khamzat Chimaev wants to fight dominant grappler Colby Covington
Khamzat Chimaev's pursuit of UFC gold will take him through the controversial former two-time world title challenger Colby Covington, if the unbeaten Chechen-born superstar gets his wish.
Chimaev has been faultless in his UFC run to date, most recently dispatching popular middleweight Kevin Holland in a hastily-arranged bout which came about after Chimaev somewhat spectacularly missed weight in advance of a proposed contest against Nate Diaz in Las Vegas earlier this month.
His issues on the scales had led some to suspect that Chimaev might continue his career in the 185lbs fold - with the fighter himself fueling this speculation with a tweet last week in which he hinted that he would continue his career at middleweight.
However, the 28-year-old fighter appears to have reversed tack somewhat and has aimed his crosshairs at the controversial UFC firebrand and former welterweight world title contender Covington, with Chimaev issuing a tweet in which he declared that 'Chaos' was the next man in his crosshairs.
Chimaev's tweet simply tagged Covington along with a single word - 'Next' - and was bookended with a skull emoji.
Covington, though, could likely be Chimaev's sternest test in the cage to date. Just one fighter, Gilbert Burns, has given Chimaev any real measure of resistance throughout his mixed martial arts career to date, with the Brazilian taking a round from the Chechen in their April meeting before ultimately losing a unanimous decision.
American wrestler Covington, though, is considered by many to be a sterner type of challenge, and his silver-tongued promotional style would almost certainly garner significant interest for what would be a fascinating East vs. West wrestling matchup.
But despite calling his own shots, UFC boss Dana White says that there are concerns within his matchmaking department about Chimaev's continued ability to make the 170lbs weight limit.
His coach, Andreas Michael from the Allstars training center in Sweden, told the media recently that Chimaev has experienced difficulties in lowering his weight since he grappled with a particularly troublesome bout of Covid-19 in late 2020, and White said those worries extend all the way to the UFC HQ.
"There's obviously 170 and 185lbs, there was a big beef today at matchmaking whether he can make 170lbs, whether we should even let him make 170lbs again," White said this week. "Those are all the things that we're kicking around right now.
"I'm in the middle. What does he want to do? Where does he want to be and what does he want to do? Does he want to make 170 and go for the title at 170 or does he want to go to 185 and go for the title there?"
Chimaev, of course, will say that he's capable of winning a world title in both weight classes, but judging by his latest statement on social media he intends to achieve his goals at 170lbs before moving on to other challenges.
Whether or not Covington accepts the bout (or if the UFC even attempts to make it) will remain to be seen, but you can be sure that there is no lack of potential opponents for one of the UFC's biggest rising stars.