Khamzat Chimaev says Kamaru Usman the goal, will take Chechnya vs. Stockton battle with Nick Diaz

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John Morgan
·6 min read
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After a lengthy battle with COVID-19, Khamzat Chimaev is ready to fight again, and he likes the idea being floated about of a potential clash with Nick Diaz.

The 26-year-old Chimaev says he grew up watching the legendary Diaz and would now like to test his himself against such a recognizable name.

“I want to fight with him,” Chimaev told MMA Junkie. “That will be good. I watched his fight when I was a kid, now I’m going to fight with him. Perfect for me. I like it. I want to see who is the real gangster. I think he is a real gangster in this sport, but we’ll see.”

This past year, Chimaev made an immediate impact in the UFC, earning three wins in a span of just two months and was awarded MMA Junkie’s 2020 “Breakout Fighter of the Year.” However, he hasn’t fought since this past September while dealing with lingering issues caused by the novel coronavirus that has impacted the entire globe.

At one point, Chimaev even announced he was walking away from the sport, leading many to wonder just how bad his infection truly was. Now, he says he didn’t really fear for his own safety but knew he simply couldn’t jeopardize his health for the sake of sport – not when there were more important things to tend to at home.

“I was never scared about my life,” Chimaev said. “I was scared about, like, what am I going to do with my mom and my family. That’s what I was scared about. That’s why I said maybe I was finished with the sport. My health is more important for me because I have to help my mom and my family.”

But after taking time off from training, Chimaev said he’s now back to 100 percent, and he’s itching to take another fight.

“I’m healthy now,” Chimaev said. “My father, my brother, they love the fight. They said, ‘If you want to fight, let’s do it.’ I said, ‘Of course I want to fight. All my life I want to fight. Why not now?’ I can make money, give help to somebody. That’s good for me.

“I love this sport. I love to smash somebody and make money. It’s so easy work. Go and fight? I did all my life fights, I never get money, and now I can make money with this sh*t. I love it.”

Chimaev said he’s been paying attention to the sport during his seven months on the sidelines, but only one name has truly stood out to him during that time: UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

Chimaev said he watched Usman’s big win over Jorge Masvidal at this past weekend’s UFC 261 and believes “The Nigerian Nightmare” is the lone man on the planet at 170 pounds who can give him a run for his money.

“Usman looks good,” Chimaev said. “Now I can say this: In my weight class, he is the best fighter in the world. … Next year, he have to wait for me. I understand I have to fight with somebody (first), and I always say it doesn’t matter for me who is against me. I’m going to go for everybody.”

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Chimaev’s name was brought up in the post-fight press conference at this past weekend’s event, and UFC president Dana White didn’t rule out the idea of a fight with Diaz, who it seems is finally ready to set foot in the octagon again following more than six years away.

Chimaev (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) said he welcomes a pairing with Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) and is well aware of the reputation he and brother Nate Diaz bring to the cage.

“He’s a legend,” Chimaev said. “Everybody knows him in this world, the MMA world. He’s good. These good guys, they’re like play gangsters. It’s going to be a good fight if he wants to fight against me. I don’t know. Maybe he’s scared.”

If the “play gangsters” line sounds like a bit of trashtalk, well, Chimaev isn’t exactly shy when it comes to that. Of course, it’s also important to note that he grew up in Chechnya, which has been host to multiple armed conflicts and insurrections throughout his life.

“This is MMA; this is sport,” Chimaev said. “Who is the gangster here? Gangster is other things. People kill each other. Maybe in this game, (Diaz) is a gangster. You can say like that. I grow up in the war, brother. This is bullsh*t for me, somebody’s a gangster. No, I’ve seen many things in my life. For me, nobody is gangster.”

But semantics aside, Chimaev says he does welcome the matchup. He’s currently limiting his training while fasting during Ramadan, which ends May 12. He then intends on training with his coaches for three weeks in Chechnya before relocating to either Allstars Training Center in Stockholm or to Las Vegas and the UFC Performance Institute. Either way, he’s already let UFC brass know he’s ready to get something on the books.

“I hope I’m going to fight in August,” Chimaev said. “I told Dana White yesterday. He said he’s ready to give me somebody, and I said to him, ‘Don’t forget about me. I’m going to kill everybody there.'”

Eventually, he hopes he works his way to a 2022 date with Usman for the UFC welterweight title. But he knows there are a few steps to make before then. If Diaz wants to be the next man up, Chimaev said he’s game.

“I was out for how many months?” Chimaev asked. “He was out many years. Coming back, it will be good. I think UFC can make good money with that, press conference and all that. I like these guys. We’re going to play some gangsters.

“I’m coming back, and we kill somebody, smash somebody. Now we have Diaz. I don’t know, both maybe someday? Both brothers. We’re going to see who is the real gangster. Chechen gangster is better than Stockton gangster.”

To see the full interview with Chimaev, check out the video below.