Khamzat Chimaev's head coach Andreas Michael recently did a nearly hour-long interview with Submission Radio. Here's everything we learned in a summarized version:
What's the latest on Khamzat Chimaev and his next fight?
"He just wants to do the Ramadan (1 month of fasting for Muslims), and he's focusing on his religion, and after that, he's gonna start. All respect to his religion, and we're ready to go when he gets back." - Coach Michael explains that Chimaev is now focusing on his religion and not thinking about fighting.
Much like the famed Khabib Nurmagomedov, Chimaev is a devout Muslim who practices obligatory religious actions, such as fasting from food and water during the day in the month of Ramadan. Other Muslim fighters such as Belal Muhammad and Islam Makhachev have expressed not wanting to fight during this time.
Chimaev was in training camp for the Middleweight champ.
"We were [in training camp] getting ready for Pereira. And that fell out . . . The card in Brazil was screaming for a main event, and we said, 'Let's go!' but it didn't happen. I just think that it would have been a great fight, and hopefully, we'll get that fight in the future if [Alex Pereira] is still the champ."
Khamzat was actively preparing to face Alex Pereira in a 5-round main event at UFC 283. Unfortunately, the fight would not materialize, but coach Michael is hopeful for it.
Why did Khamzat call him out?
"There's nobody else left. For me, I would prefer a title shot if I had to choose. But Robert Whittaker didn't have a fight. He was one of the few that's free at the moment. That didn't materialize either, for different reasons. Khamzat wanted it. He wants to fight everyone."
The title was preferred, but at the time, Whittaker and Chimaev were two fighters that did not have a fight and wanted to fight each other. However, for undisclosed reasons, the fight couldn't take place.
Was Nate Diaz offered $2 million to take the fight at a higher weight?
"I think Nate Diaz never wanted the fight. He said many times in interviews that he never wanted the fight. . . It was our obligation to make the weight, but when we didn't and when things were thrown at him to take the fight, he just said no, and I don't blame him. I swear to god, I don't blame him. I blame us for not making weight." - He explains that Diaz was offered certain incentives to take the fight despite Chimaev's weight miss, but he refused. Coach Michael blames no one but himself and his team.
"That would have been a tremendous win [for Chimaev]. I think that Kevin Holland was a harder fight on paper. He's a tough dude. He's fresh and hasn't got a lot of wear and tear on him. It just proves again what an animal Khamzat Chimaev is—just a pure beast. I think Nate's happy with what happened. I would be as well." - He believes that Kevin Holland was the harder fight, and Nate should be grateful that he dodged Chimaev.
The coach went on to talk about Nate in a different light:
"I'm happy for him. I'm not a hater. I don't work that way. He shouldn't have been in those types of fights anyway with Khamzat Chimaev and these up-and-coming hungry dudes. We need to take care of these guys, not throw them in with the lions." - Michael believes that MMA should not put its legends against the younger generation but instead take care of them.
He's bulking for his new weight class.
"Well, he's getting strong for the new weight class, yeah. It's Middleweight. He's going to fight at Middleweight—but if the title comes at Welterweight, miracles can happen, and they will happen. We'll get him down, don't worry." - He's thoroughly preparing to move from 170 lbs to 185 but is still open to a Welterweight title shot.
The General gives his prediction for the upcoming Welterweight title fight.
"All logic says if you watched the fight, who was winning in the last fight, then I would have to say, based on the performance that happened, that Usman will win this one. You don't count a performance off one shot. But I'm rooting for my boy Leon. They're both good guys. Usman is a tremendous fighter, and Leon is a tremendous fighter. Leon's got a winning streak of god knows how many fights, so he deserves it. God bless them both. God bless Leon. He's had a tough time and done everything for that belt; god bless him." - He feels Kamaru will win but is rooting for Leon.
Is that fight big enough to lure Chimaev back to 170?
"Of course. That's a mega-fight. But at the end of the day, it's not me that's making weight. If Khamzat feels that he wants to go down to Welterweight, I believe that he can do it. If you put your mind to it, you can do whatever you want, a piece of cake." - The General won't rule out a return to Welterweight to face Conor McGregor in a super fight.
Has the UFC offered Khamzat any names yet?
"No, they didn't offer us anyone. . . We're trying to get a fight, but people are booked. People say they want to fight, but they don't want to fight. People price themselves out. And there are some people that, of course, want to fight, but [the fight] doesn't make sense." - The UFC hasn't offered Chimaev a fight nor attempted to make any.
Coach Andreas said that the only fights they could get now are people mostly ranked in the top 20, but Chimaev is beyond that now and needs fights that pave the way forward. They want a number one contender fight or the champion.
They want to become champion at international fight week.
"That would be the ideal fight. . . But I trust the process and know the UFC has a plan for us." The dream scenario is a Middleweight title shot, but they'll trust the UFC to decide their next fight.
Coach Michael closed out and said it's up to Chimaev to decide when he's ready to return, as he is preparing for Ramadan and will take at least a few weeks to get back in shape. The team would love to take the winner of Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanaya at UFC 287.
Will we see Khamzat Chimaev fight soon, and who will it be against? Let us know what you make of all this in the comments below.