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Khamzat Chimaev says UFC champ Sean Strickland ‘has to be afraid’ of him, expects title shot next

Khamzat Chimaev has issued UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland a warning.

Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) makes his first title defense against Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the UFC 297 headliner Jan. 20 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Chimaev has trained with Strickland before at Xtreme Couture and praised him for being a good fighter. Strickland took aim at Belal Muhammad for showing Palestine support during it’s ongoing conflict with Israel but didn’t comment when Chimaev did.

Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) was asked if he thinks Strickland is afraid of him.

“I don’t know, man,” Chimaev said in an interview with Mohammed Hijab. “He has to be afraid. Inshallah we fight with everyone, so the fights in the cage is not that big thing. If we can make some people happy who is going through hard times and all Muslims watching us and me and Khabib, all the Muslim fighters, Belal.

“We know all of the kids, our kids, they’re watching. They want to be like us, want to be strong people. Inshallah we try to be a good picture for them. Sean Strickland, all these guys, they should be afraid of us. We fight not just for us like they do. We fight for all Muslims.”

Chimaev was declared No. 1 contender when he defeated former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 294, and he expects to be next in line for the winner of Strickland vs. Du Plessis.

“One hundred percent,” Chimaev said. “He (Strickland) has a good fighter who he’s fighting with, Du Plessis, and if he wins against this guy, for sure we’re going to fight 100 percent. They promised for me that fight, so now we’re going to wait who’s winning the fight and then take the belt.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie