Khamzat Chimaev thinks the UFC is protecting Israel Adesanya from him.
Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has been keen to return to action, and appears to be gearing towards a welterweight showdown with former champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi.
“Borz” has called out almost every top contender – whether at 170 or 185 pounds. Among those names is UFC middleweight champion Adesanya, who has cleared out the majority of his division. Adesanya already has defended his title against the likes of Robert Whittaker, Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori, and Chimaev thinks he’s the most lucrative option out there for him.
“For Israel, there’s nobody there – only me,” Chimaev said on his YouTube channel. “So if you spoke about money, if you ask the fans, they want to see me and Israel. I’m a bad matchup for him. Everyone knows he’s going to lose the title (to me). That’s why they save that guy.”
Chimaev acknowledges that Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) is one of the biggest stars and draws for the company, which is why he thinks the UFC won’t risk matching them up together.
“You know they built up him,” Chimaev said. “They don’t want to lose him that fast. (I’d) finish that guy without punches, and that’s why they’re scared. Then (his) story’s dead, you know? They don’t want to kill that guy. Maybe the guy makes money for them, but I still make money, as well, so I don’t know what’s going on.
“Who is he going to fight? There is nobody. He wins against all the strikers, and I’m a wrestler – a killer. I squeeze the heads of my opponents. I’m the biggest name without the belt. When you fight with me, it’s more money, more fans. When I fight, everyone is waiting for my fight. When I fought with Gilbert (Burns), we weren’t main event, (but) everyone was waiting for us.”
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Adesanya is expected to headline UFC 293 on Sept. 10 in Sydney, but does not yet have an opponent announced. Chimaev hasn’t competed since a first-round submission of Kevin Holland at UFC 279 this past September.