Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has given a positive response after being called out for a fight by Khamzat Chimaev.
Chimaev has established himself as one of the most lethal contenders in the welterweight division, where he’s comfortably dispatched Kevin Holland and Li Jingliang, and in his most impressive win to date, outpointed fellow top-five 170lber Gilbert Burns in a Fight of the Year contender.
Despite that, it appears that “Borz” is laying a closer eye on the middleweight landscape, something that picked up pace after his sizable weight miss at UFC 279. In addition to previously targeting newly crowned 185-pound titleholder Alex Pereira, the Chechen-born Swede has now set his sights on one of the division’s top contenders, Whittaker.
On social media, Chimaev laid down the challenger, posing a ‘good guy vs. bad guy’ contest.
The callout came as somewhat of a surprise given Chimaev’s past comments about hoping to avoid a clash and instead train with “The Reaper,” whom he boasts significant respect for. Nevertheless, it seems that Whittaker is willing to accommodate the tune change.
Robert Whittaker ready & willing for Khamzat Chimaev fight
Former champ Whittaker is currently in Perth as the UFC prepares for its first card in Australia since 2019. While he was initially scheduled to be in action, a breakdown in contract discussions with Paulo Costa have left Whittaker as a spectator for UFC 284.
And during a recent sit-down interview with Submission Radio, Whittaker addressed his plans moving forward now that he’s without an opponent.
After noting his ‘any and all’ attitude as he looks to fit another bout in before potentially challenging the victor of Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya‘s championship rematch, Whittaker added Chimaev to the list of foes he’s willing to face.
“Yeah, cool. Let’s do it,” Whittaker said. “I don’t know. If it’s a fight that gets presented to me, it is what it is. I think it would be a good fight. I think it would be a hard fight. I think he’s a phenomenal fighter. I think he has a lot of strengths. I think I have a lot of strengths. I think I’m a hard fight for him. I’m quite good with my hands, can stuff a lot of takedowns, (and) am hard to take down. Yeah, it would be an interesting fight. That would be a showstopper, for sure.”
Since moving to middleweight in 2014, Whittaker has only suffered defeat against Adesanya. After falling short against “The Last Stylebender” for the second time last February, “The Reaper” rebounded in style seven months later with a dominant performance against Marvin Vettori in Paris.
Now, Whittaker is after another chance at championship redemption. And given who he’s already beaten at 185 pounds and the undefeated status of Chimaev, it’s safe to say a victory over “Borz” would likely net him that opportunity.