Robert Whittaker and Khamzat Chimaev have both come out and said they’re willing to fight each other.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion was supposed to return to action this weekend (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia against Paulo Costa. Unfortunately for Whittaker, negotiations between Costa and UFC broke down, resulting in the Brazilian knockout artist’s removal from the anticipated match up.
With both Whittaker and Chimaev in need of opponents for their next appearances, the idea has been presented for each to square off. Chimaev expects the fight will be next for him, and “The Reaper” isn’t against testing “Borz” at 185 pounds.
“The reason why it would be a fight that’s worth making is because he’s riding the hype train, and because UFC want to bring this guy, who’s the boogeyman to a lot of guys, up in the rankings,” Whittaker told Submission Radio (h/t MMA Junkie). “They want him to fight me at the top of the chain, so that it opens the door to whoever wins, and then jump behind. That’s the only reason it makes sense.”
Whittaker has perpetually been in the title mix since becoming a champion in July 2017. Last pitching a shutout against Marvin Vettori via a unanimous decision in Sept. 2022, Chimaev also last fought during that month, dominating Kevin Holland in a 180-pound Catchweight tilt (watch highlights).
Historically, Whittaker has proven a challenge for the best of wrestlers and strikes as good as anyone at Middleweight. Despite Chimaev also being a top Welterweight, Whittaker believes the Sweden resident is a tough match up for him, too.
“Oh yeah, cool – let’s do it,” Whittaker said. “Whatever. If it’s a fight that gets presented to me, then it is what it is. Yeah, I think it’d be a good fight. I think he’d be a hard fight. I think he’s a phenomenal fighter. I think he has a lot of strengths.
“I think I have a lot of strengths,” he continued. “I think I’m a hard fighter for him, just the same – and I’m quite good with my hands, can stuff a lot of takedowns. I’m hard to hold down. I’m squirmy, you see. Yeah, it’ll be an interesting fight. That’ll be a showstopper, for sure. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of people interested and excited.”