When matched up against Khamzat Chimaev, Robert Whittaker doesn’t give Colby Covington much of a chance.
UFC president Dana White has stated that a fight between Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) might be a co-main event to a potential trilogy contest between champion Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman, and Whittaker agrees that Chimaev would have an easy time with Covington.
Covington’s two losses against ex-champ Kamaru Usman, which Whittaker cited, were largely kickboxing fights between two strong wrestlers.
“Stylistically, fight-wise, I think that’s a terrible fight for Colby,” Whittaker said.
“Terrible. Because you saw with Usman that anyone Colby can’t just relentlessly spam takedowns on, it becomes a kickboxing fight and a striking match. And I think Covington’s great at what he does, but he’s not a kickboxer, he’s not a striker by trade. That doesn’t come naturally to him.
“His pressure style and wrestling style is what comes naturally to him. Khamzat can counter-wrestle Colby. He’s a big dude with long range and a lot of reach, and his striking is nothing ridiculously crazy, but it’s put together at a high level. And he integrates that with the threat of his wrestling and grappling takedowns stupendously. So, I think Khamzat for Colby is a bad matchup.”
When Chimaev was questioned about a potential fight with Whittaker after his UFC 279 win over Kevin Holland, he claimed he’d rather train with him than fight him. Whittaker thinks it’s a great plan.
“I don’t know him personally, like, his character or anything like that, but skill-wise and the skill sets he brings into the octagon when he fights, they’re very high caliber, high tier,” Whittaker said. “And I am a believer that iron sharpens iron. And if me and him got together and started working on our skillsets and mentalities, it’s a scary prospect, isn’t it?”
He added, “I’m not gonna rule it out. There’s all possibility in the world at this point that I could one day get together with him and train.”
Backstory on Khamzat Chimaev
Khamzat Khizarovich Chimaev, born on May 1, 1994, is a Swedish professional MMA fighter and freestyle wrestler who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Welterweight division (UFC). He used to be a BCF (Brave Combat Federation) competitor. Chimaev has won the Swedish National Championship in wrestling three times. He is the current UFC welterweight division’s third best fighter as of April 12, 2022.
Childhood & Early Learning
Chimaev was born in Russia’s Chechen Republic, and he first picked up a wrestling mat at the tender age of five. There are rumors that in the junior level, he took home bronze at the Russian National Championships. At the age of 18, he followed his mother and older brother to Sweden.
Successful wrestling career
Chimaev wrestled for several Swedish clubs after relocating there, notably BK Athén. Chimaev, one of Sweden’s top freestyle wrestlers, has won the national title three times in a row (in 2016, 2017, and 2018) at 86 kilograms, and he did so again at 92 kilograms this year. Chimaev has been dominant throughout the competition, posting a perfect 12-0 record with three pins, seven technical falls, a total of 105 points, and only two points allowed in his three bouts. Chimaev has fought in four combat sambo matches and a couple judo tournaments.
On November 19, 2021, at Bulldog Fight Night 9 in Sweden, Chimaev wrestled fellow UFC contender Jack Hermansson in a freestyle battle, and he won.
Success in MMA
When he was 23, Chimaev began his MMA training. He is a member of the same Stockholm gym as Alexander Gustafsson, who has challenged for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship three times, Ilir Latifi, and Reza Madadi. Gustafsson (one of his major training partners) informed a Swedish reporter that Chimaev was one of the best fighters he had ever trained with, during a press conference in June 2019.
Speaking to ESPN, Chimaev said he was motivated to begin MMA training after taking a 15-minute break from work to watch the Aldo vs. McGregor main event. Chimaev added, “I was watching his [McGregor’s] bout. I caught a few rounds of him taking on Aldo. I was seated in night and was working. For the past fifteen minutes, as I rested, I’ve been watching his battle. I usually look at that like if the guys make so many money like millions and this stuff, why I can’t do it now. I was born a fighter, a warrior, and I possess a unique quality. I had to find some means and take out this to display to the public.”
Chimaev competed in three mixed martial arts bouts as an amateur between September 2017 and April 2018. The first of them was against future IMMAF World Champion Khaled Laallam, whom he defeated via submission in the second round. He won his remaining two amateur fights, one by submission and one by technical knockout, concluding his amateur career with a record of 3–0.
Professionally, Chimaev fought Gard Olve Sagen on May 26, 2018, at International Ring Fight Arena 14. He won the fight through technical knockout in the second round. In his next bout, Chimaev faced Ole Magnor at Fight Club Rush 3 on August 18, 2018. He won via submission with a rear naked choke late in the first round.
Valient Fight Club
Chimaev signed with the Middle Eastern company Brave Combat Federation after having his first two professional fights in Sweden. On November 16th, 2018 at Brave CF 18, he was supposed to make his promotional debut against Benjamin Bennett. Bennett, however, pulled out of the fight, and unbeaten contender Marko Kisi took his place. In the first round, Chimaev knocked out his opponent with a left hand and declared victory via technical knockout.
Chimaev replaced an injured Leon Aliu at the last minute for Brave CF 20 on December 22, 2018, taking on Sidney Wheeler. After just 35 seconds of the first round, he scored a technical knockout and won the bout.
On April 19, 2019, he faced Ikram Aliskerov at Brave CF 23. In this bout, Chimaev competed for the first time at welterweight. He won the match through knockout after landing an uppercut in the first round. As a result of his efforts, he was named Knockout of the Night for Brave.
At Brave CF 27 on October 4, 2019, he faced Mzwandile Hlongwa in his fourth promotional bout. When Chimaev submitted his opponent in the second round, he won the bout.
On April 18, 2020, at Brave CF 37, the event closest to Chimaev’s home in Stockholm, Sweden, Chimaev was scheduled to battle Jarrah Al-Selawe for the BCF Welterweight Championship. However, Chimaev instead signed with the UFC, so the fight was postponed and then scrapped.
The Greatest Martial Arts Show on Earth
On July 16, 2020, at UFC on ESPN 13, Chimaev made his promotional debut in a middleweight bout against John Phillips, replacing Duko Todorovi. In the second round, he submitted his opponent and won the bout. After this triumph, he was given the evening’s top honor for performance.
Chimaev fought promotional newcomer Rhys McKee on 25 July 2020 at UFC on ESPN 14 to defend his welterweight title, ten days after his bout with Phillips. His first-round technical knockout victory was decisive. He was awarded the evening’s Performance of the Night bonus for the second time. Even while Royce Gracie still holds the official UFC record with his four victories in one night at UFC 2, this victory also set a new UFC record for the fastest consecutive wins in modern UFC history (ten days).
On 6 September 2020, it was announced that Chimaev would be fighting Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Fight Night 178 on 19 September 2020, marking yet another short turnaround for the fighter. In only 17 seconds into the first round, he knocked out Meerschaert and won the bout. He has now won three consecutively for “Performance of the Night” because of this victory. Because of this, he now holds the record for the quickest three-fight victory streak in UFC history (66 days).
The main event of UFC Fight Night 183 between Chimaev and Leon Edwards was originally set for December 19, 2020. Along the way, Chimaev entered the UFC welterweight rankings at position #15. Since Chimaev tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29th, the fight has been called into question. The fight was canceled after Edwards tested positive with COVID-19 on December 1. UFC Fight Night 185, formerly planned for 20 January, was postponed on 22 December, with the rematch set to take place on 20 January, 2021. After recovering from COVID-19, Chimaev withdrew from the competition on December 29. So for a while there wasn’t a fight. The pair will now headline UFC Fight Night 187 on March 13. UFC president Dana White confirmed the fight was postponed again on 11 February because Chimaev was still experiencing symptoms from COVID-19.
The issues he was experiencing with his lungs from COVID-19 led him to declare his retirement from the sport on Instagram on March 1, 2021. Later, once Chimaev’s trainer noticed prednisone’s negative effects on his lungs during a workout, Dana White came forward to say that his client had not actually retired but was simply upset.
On October 30, 2021, Chimaev fought Li Jingliang at UFC 267. During the first round, he choked Jingliang out with a rear-naked choke, earning a technical submission victory. With this victory, he now has four consecutive Performance of the Night awards to his name.
UFC 273 took place on April 9, 2022, when Chimaev fought Gilbert Burns. This was Chimaev’s first professional decision win, and it came by way of a unanimous scorecard. It was deemed the night’s Fight of the Night winner. He also won the Crypto.com Fan Bonus of the Night award for his performance in the bout.
UFC 279’s main event was supposed to feature Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz on September 10, 2022. Chimaev tipped the scales at 178.5 pounds, more than seven and a half pounds over the welterweight non-title fight limit. Chimaev was supposed to fight Diaz in the main event, but he failed to make weight and had to face Kevin Holland in the co-main event, a catchweight bout at 180 pounds. On the card, Holland was scheduled to fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight of 180 pounds. Chimaev won the fight with a first-round D’Arce Choke.