Khamzat Chimaev’s chase of the UFC welterweight title may already be over.
Asked ahead of UFC 286 whether Chimaev’s next fight will come at 170 pounds or middleweight, UFC president Dana White revealed the UFC is targeting the latter.
“Yeah, he’ll fight at middleweight,” White told reporters in London.
Chimaev, 28, badly missed weight for his most recent bout, tipping the scales at 178.5 pounds for a scheduled headliner against Nate Diaz in September 2022 at UFC 279, a whopping 7.5 pounds over the welterweight limit for a non-title fight. The weight miss led to a flurry of last-second card changes that ultimately resulted in Chimaev fighting Kevin Holland at a 180-pound catchweight — a fight he won via first-round submission.
Chimaev’s weight struggles are the only blemish on an otherwise undefeated UFC résumé that has seen the Chechen talent rack up a 6-0 octagon record across the welterweight and middleweight divisions while establishing himself as a likely future title contender.
Chimaev is currently MMA Fighting’s No. 3 ranked welterweight in the world, behind only UFC 286’s two championship headliners Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman. Outside of his memorable Fight of the Night brawl with Gilbert Burns at UFC 273, “The Wolf” has absorbed just one significant strike in his five other UFC wins — a run of dominance which has lead many within the sport to hail him as a potential champion at either 170 or 185 pounds.
According to White, all the work Chimaev has done to rise through the welterweight ranks won’t be erased even if he shifts his focus to the middleweight division.
“He’s in a position where he should be fighting top-3 guys in the world,” White said.