Heading into 2022, not many fighters had the sort of widespread interest that had lassoed itself to Chimaev following his victory over Li Jingliang at UFC 267. Like many, UFC play-by-play commentator Jon Anik named “Borz” as his biggest question entering the new year.
One question that has certainly been answered surrounded the doubts of some about Chimaev’s place among the elite at 170 pounds. He met that query with fists and blood at UFC 273 earlier this month.
In a sizable step up in competition, the 27-year-old shared the Octagon with former title challenger and then-#2 contender Gilbert Burns. In an all-out brawl, Chimaev was tested more than ever, but despite some tough adversity, he emerged victorious on the scorecards.
Having climbed eight steps to #3 on the welterweight ladder, it stands to reason that Chimaev is just one victory away from his first championship opportunity on MMA’s biggest stage.
And who could be the opponent to help get him there? According to Coach Andreas Michael, there’s only one man he has his eye on.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Michael, who trains Chimaev and a number of other notable Swedes at the Allstars Training Center in Stockholm, suggested Colby Covington is the 170lber he wants to see throw down with his pupil next.
“I would like to see him fight Colby. Colby would be a good fight. We’re after fighting the best, yeah? So, Colby’s like, the next step up, and we just keep on going,” said Michael. “I think a little bit different. I don’t think like the average person. I think like this: We should fight the best, and if we’re not good enough to be there, then we shouldn’t be there. That’s how I think.
“Right now, it doesn’t get easier, it just gets tougher. And if we can’t handle these guys that Usman has handled, then we’re going to have a problem. And he can handle them, and he will handle them, and he will win,” insisted Michael.
Coach Michael appeared in the headlines following UFC 273 after his passionate outburst in Chimaev’s corner between rounds two and three. While the rising welterweight star may not have listened and followed the game plan in the cage on April 9, Michael is hoping he will when it comes to his return timeline…
Michael: Chimaev Must Take Time To Recover
Having pinpointed “Chaos” as the desired opponent, Michael was asked when he’s hoping to see Chimaev make his sixth walk to the Octagon.
After witnessing his man go to war for three rounds in a memorable bout that will certainly be included in the Fight of the Year conversation, the renowned coach knows recovery time is key. With that in mind, Michael is hoping to keep “Borz” away from action over the summer.
“This is where I have to use my experience and hold him back,” suggested Michael. “Fights like that take a little bit of time for the body to recover. I would like him to fight like, maybe in September or October, somewhere there. If he listens to me [LAUGHS].”
Would you like to see Khamzat Chimaev share the cage with Colby Covington next?