Dana White seems to be all-in on Khamzat Chimaev two fights into his UFC career.
Following the UFC Vegas 9 weigh-ins, White spoke with the media and revealed the promotion was working on a welterweight fight between Chimaev and multi-time title challenger Demian Maia for an October event on Fight Island. MMA Fighting also confirmed an initial report from Combate that the unbeaten prospect has also booked a middleweight bout with Gerald Meerschaert at the UFC’s event in Las Vegas on Sept. 19.
During Tuesday night’s DWCS Season 4: Week 6 event, Yahoo Sports reported that the fight between Chimaev and Maia is a go, but it will take place in Las Vegas “in mid-November” instead of in Abu Dhabi. The UFC president spoke with members of the media following the Contender Series event and confirmed that was the case.
“I don’t know how that played out, but that’s how we’re doing it,” White told reporters backstage at the APEX. “I told these guys, ‘Get him two fights. Get him one here in Vegas and one on Fight Island,’ and he’s fighting both here. I don’t know why we’re doing that, but whatever. It’s all good.”
Chimaev, 26, has won—and finished—all eight of his professional fights. “Borz” made his octagon debut and submitted John Phillips in a middleweight bout at UFC on ESPN 13. 10 days later, Chimaev made his second promotional appearance, this time at welterweight, and finished newcomer Rhys McKee via first-round TKO.
Now that Chimaev has his next two fights booked, White was asked if he felt it was disrespectful towards Meerschaert to have his upcoming opponent’s follow-up bout rolled out.
“The thing is the guy wants to keep fighting,” White said. “He wants all these fights back-to-back. It’s no disrespect to his opponent, he’s either gonna win or lose. That has nothing to do with us. That’s up to them. But to do that, really fight two fights in a row, you have to book them.
“For a guy like him, I would never do that for somebody else. I’d be like, ‘Relax, let’s see if you get through this fight.’ But from what I’ve seen from him, I’m willing to do that with him.”
With Chimaev flip-flopping weight classes for each of his first four octagon appearances as they currently stand, White is quite intrigued about the unbeaten prospect’s potential trajectory in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions.
“It’s fascinating,” White explained. “We’ve never really had anybody who is doing anything like he is right now. I can see why you would say, ‘Don’t you think it’s disrespectful to be booking a fight for him when he’s already got a fight?’ But that’s how you have to do it.
“It’s interesting. I like it and I’ve never had a guy like this, so it’s fun. I’ll play this game with him. After what I saw in his first two fights, he fought real guys. He didn’t fight chumps. This isn’t a guy who blew through a couple of setup fights. He beat real people. I’m gonna see how it plays out.”