Reports came out yesterday that suggest that Swedish UFC star Khamzat Chimaev has declined Luke Rockhold as a possible opponent for his hotly anticipated UFC return. Today, Ariel Helwani tweeted “Luke Rockhold tells me he was offered a main event vs. Khamzat Chimaev on Aug. 28. He said he accepted but just got word Chimaev declined because he’s staying at 170. He also accepted a 3-rounder vs Chimaev on Aug. 7.”
Luke Rockhold tells me he was offered a main event vs. Khamzat Chimaev on Aug. 28. He said he accepted but just got word Chimaev declined because he’s staying at 170. He also accepted a 3-rounder vs Chimaev on Aug. 7.
“All respect but I thought he would fight anyone,” he said.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 23, 2021
Chimaev has been out of the octagon since his seventeen second knockout victory over Gerald Meerschaert on 19th September 2020, due to COVID-19 related complications. He was originally scheduled to face Leon Edwards on 19th December 2020, however, it was announced on 29th November that Chimaev had tested positive for COVID-19. The bout was then moved to 20th January 2021, after Edwards also tested positive. On 29th December, Chimaev pulled out of the rescheduled bout, stating his poor COVID-19 recovery as the reason. Chimaev’s Lingering long COVID health issues would also put a halt to the proposed third date on 13th March 2021, causing the frustrated Swede to publicly announce his retirement in March. Dana White was quick to dispel the announcement and told the press that he was confident Chimaev would return by at least June 2021, which now looks to be around August as per Helwani’s sources.
This report seems to have cleared up the weight class of choice for Chimaev, after fluctuating between Welterweight and Middleweight. In July 2020, Chimaev fought two opponents in the space of ten days at both weights, making his UFC debut at middleweight against John Phillips before taking a bout at welterweight versus Rhys McKee. Fighting at 170 leaves Chimaev open to the originally intended Leon Edwards fight, but also provides UFC matchmakers with a whole host of fantastic stylistic clashes. Assuming Chimaev gets the all clear to fight, expect an exciting end to 2021 for Khamzat Chimaev.
George Glinski is the founder of popular bare-knuckle boxing blog toethelinebkb.com and works as a staff writer and post-fight interviewer for BKBtm. His contributions to mymmanews.com include MMA, boxing, bare-knuckle boxing and Lethwei, with a particular focus on the British scenes.