Paulo Costa is not impressed with Khamzat Chimaev following his UFC 294 win over Kamaru Usman.
Chimaev and Usman did battle in a short-notice fight inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 21. Despite a dominant opening round for Chimaev, Usman made things competitive with his boxing and ground defense. Ultimately, Chimaev won the fight via majority decision.
Usman was replacing Costa, who was forced to pull out of the fight after undergoing shoulder surgery. The Brazilian bruiser was in attendance in Abu Dhabi.
Paulo Costa Blasts Khamzat Chimaev For UFC 294 Performance
“It was not good,” Costa told MMA Junkie on Sunday. “It was worse after watching the fight. The fight was horrible. Khamzat Chimaev looks horrible. Three rounds of horrible. He fought a 170 guy from short notice – the guy who don’t even fight at 185. Usman is a legit 170. Khamzat tried to finish him in the first round – he couldn’t. Then he gets out. Then I truly believe Usman beat him for the next two rounds. So what can I say about that, bro? He looked terrible.
“I became a little bit more sad than before because I just thought, I could’ve finished this motherf*cker easy. Easy money. He’s easy money. He’s so green. He’s an immature fighter. He put all his energy in the first round. If he cannot finish the guy, he’s done. I truly believe if Usman had just a couple more weeks of training, two more weeks in his fight camp, he could’ve beat him. I actually believe at least he got a draw.”
Despite the competitiveness of the bout, the win seemingly punched a ticket for Chimaev to challenge 185-pound champ Sean Strickland in the next title bout. UFC CEO Dana White said that’s the plan going forward at the UFC 294 post-fight news conference, although there’s fear about a potential Chimaev hand injury.
Paulo Costa doesn’t think he’s worthy of the championship opportunity either way, though and said Chimaev needs to prove more in the weight class before being granted a chance.
“Either way, I think Khamzat needs to fight a legit middleweight fighter to have a chance to fight for the belt,” Costa said. “He go direct to the belt? He don’t even fight a middleweight yet. Why? It don’t make sense to me. Conor (McGregor) tweeted that, and I repost. I’m here. Why not? This is the fight the people want to see. He needs to fight a legit 185 before going to the title shot. He’s not even a champ or top three in the 170. When the guy is the champ in 170 and he move up to 185 and he have the belt, OK, he has a point. But you’re nothing in 170.
“Why you move to 185 title shot if you didn’t even fight a legit middleweight? I’m right here. I can fight him in December. But I think after that horrible fight, Chimaev will need more time to try to get better to face a guy like me. If he show up he will be erased easily. Easy money.”
Costa said he’s confident the UFC will reschedule his fight with Chimaev instead of booking him in a title fight with Strickland. After seeing three rounds of Chimaev up close and personal, he strongly thinks he has the solution to end his perfect run in MMA.
“I’m prepared for that,” Costa said. “I’m heavy. I have heavy hips. I will defend hard. He’ll be shot against the wall. When he shoot for my legs, on my rips he’ll be shocked against the wall. I will defend with 100 percent power. He will not get a body lock on my body. He’ll need to swim and try again and shoot again and he will start to gas out, telegraph his shots and then I will finish him.
“I truly believe they’re going to put me against him because he messed around. He should’ve beat Usman quickly and easily. He didn’t. So he messed around. I think he doesn’t look good anymore. Even he didn’t look good against Gilbert (Burns). Smaller guy, smaller than him, and he went to brawl, he got knocked down and now he look worse than before. So I think UFC going to make this because this is the fight people want to see. I think to make this whole division legit, we need to fight.”
Chimaev has been promised a UFC middleweight title opportunity with his victory over Usman.