Khamzat Chimaev has exploded into the national spotlight with four wins in as many UFC appearances.
One divisional rival who hasn’t been impressed, however, is UFC 268 headliner and next welterweight title challenger Colby Covington, who fights champion Kamaru Usman (19-1 MMA, 14-0 UFC) in a rematch Satuday at Madison Square Garden.
“‘Cumshot’ Chimaev, he’s got a lot more work than get three fights in the UFC,” Covington told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a UFC 268 media day on Wednesday. “You guys hype these guys up real quick, but let’s not forget that he was put down by the common cold.”
The “common cold” Covington referred to was Chimaev’s publicly documented battle against COVID-19. The bout with the disease knocked him out of action and the training room for months prior to his training camp for his most recent fight, a quick submission win over Li Jingliang at UFC 267.
“He was ready to retire off the common cold,” Chimaev said. “That’s a 99.9 percent survival rate to beat the common cold. ‘C*mshot’ Chimaev was ready to give it up and retire. He doesn’t want to fight me. He has a way less chance than 99.9 percent chance against me.”
Chimaev, 27, made his promotional debut in July 2020 when he submitted John Phillips. Ten days later, he finished Rhys McKee with ground-and-pound punches. In December, he knocked out Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds.
Chimaev next would like to fight Nate Diaz, which UFC president Dana White is on board with.
UFC 268 takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews/ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+.