Saudi Arabia is a UFC partner. Why is this Chimaev’s only chance to become a champion?

By | May 11, 2024

Khamzat has been given all the conditions he needs, the main thing is to keep winning. June 22 will see the first-ever UFC event in Saudi Arabia. For this occasion, the promotion has assembled a very strong card featuring a number of Russian-speaking fighters. They will be the main stars of the event, headlined by Khamzat Chimaev’s match against former champion Robert Whittaker.

Interestingly, the Saudi event was initially planned for early this year, specifically for March 2. However, things quickly changed, and the event was held in Las Vegas. According to foreign sources, this was because the sheikhs from Saudi Arabia were not satisfied with the proposed card, which included, among others, Shamil Gaziev and Muhammad Mokaev. It’s important to note that the Saudis paid $20 million for the opportunity to host this event (it’s not a numbered event, just a Fight Night), so they had the right to ‘call the shots.’ Now the partnership between Saudi Arabia and UFC is significantly expanding. First, Riyadh Season, which has been hosting the biggest boxing fights in the last year, will sponsor UFC 306, which will take place in Las Vegas at the ‘Sphere’ arena. The promotion has high hopes for this event. Dana White was very keen to organize the event at the ‘Sphere,’ so a spectacular show is expected.

Secondly, the agreement includes hosting a major tournament in Saudi Arabia, most likely a numbered event. This is expected to happen either at the end of this year or early next year. Additionally, the sheikhs will support Power Slap tournaments and even host one of them in Riyadh. All this has already been confirmed by Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority. ESPN claims that the next UFC event planned in this country will be something bigger compared to the upcoming event headlined by Chimaev. This means that the eastern direction in UFC will continue to expand. And for some fighters, this is fantastic news.

First and foremost for Khamzat. It’s no secret that Borz has had visa issues. Therefore, he has not appeared in the USA since 2022. Consequently, UFC cannot bring him to an American tournament, but they are not giving up on Chimaev completely. If fighters like Rustam Khabilov and Mairbek Taisumov have simply been sidelined and forgotten, Dana White regularly mentions Khamzat, talking about the main stars of the league. Chimaev will now have a fight with Whittaker, the third-ranked middleweight. Essentially, it’s a contender fight. And the champion of this division, Dricus du Plessis, will most likely defend his belt at UFC 305 in Australia, with Israel Adesanya as his opponent. The winner of this clash will fight Chimaev if he beats Whittaker. And where will this fight be held to bring Khamzat there?

That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s unlikely that a numbered event in this country will be held in 2024. Usually, after Abu Dhabi (UFC 308 in October), the remaining numbered events take place in the USA β€” New York and Las Vegas. So we can expect an announcement of a tournament in Saudi Arabia in February or March next year. Perfect for Chimaev. And it’s unlikely that du Plessis or Adesanya will be ready to defend the title earlier. So such a fight can be expected next year. It seems UFC is willing to go to great lengths not to deprive Chimaev of the opportunity to become a champion. He will only fight in eastern countries. Tentatively β€” in Saudi Arabia now, there again early next year, and then, for example, in Abu Dhabi at the traditional event in October. Not so bad in terms of activity and ideal for Chimaev and UFC. The promotion will bring the champion to a country where he is loved, earn from these tournaments, and strengthen the eastern direction. And Khamzat, as he wanted, will get the opportunity to reach for the belt. And perhaps, this is his only chance given the current visa and entry problems into the USA. The main thing is to keep winning.

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