Coupled with his all-time classic win against fellow top-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns and his destruction of Li Jingliang, Chimaev was viewed by many as the next obvious choice to compete for the welterweight title should he get past Diaz.
But Leon Edwards dethroned longtime king Kamaru Usman earlier this month at UFC 278. And UFC president Dana White has made it clear the company will look to schedule a trilogy bout between Usman and “Rocky” next.
Cormier Said Chimaev Was ‘Biggest Loser’ in the Edwards/Usman Fallout
In a recent video on his YouTube channel, Cormier pointed out the position Chimaev now resides in. Even if he takes out Diaz, who is yielded as a heavy underdog, he will likely have to battle one more 170 pounder before he gets a crack at becoming a UFC champion.
“I think last weekend he did not understand that he was the biggest loser in the Usman vs. Leon situation, because he was in line,” Cormier said via Daily Mail. “All he had to do was get past Diaz. All he had to do, get past Diaz, you fight for the championship, but with Leon Edwards winning now, now we got a trilogy and rightfully so.
“That leads to the question: What is this fight for? I feel like for Diaz, this fight’s for legacy. I feel like for Chimaev, this is just another scalp on his resume, because I don’t know if this win necessarily puts him closer than he already is to a championship fight.
“And, because of the result last weekend, he’ll need one more. I just wonder who that one more is going to come against. If he beats Diaz, does he get Covington next?”
Usman Said He Had a ‘Weight’ Lifted Off of Him After Title Loss
“The Nigerian Nightmare” was one minute away from notching his sixth consecutive title defense and tying Anderson Silva’s record for all-time consecutive Octagon wins (16). However, Edwards shocked the world by landing a head kick near the end of the fifth frame, knocking out Usman.
When White addressed the media last week, he spoke about a conversation he had with The Nigerian Nightmare post-fight. And according to the UFC president, Usman felt a “weight” come off his shoulders.
Still, the former champ wants to get his belt back battling Edwards in an immediate rematch.
“We talked. He’s in great spirits,” White said via MMA Junkie. “Obviously he wants the rematch bad, but he said, ‘I can’t tell you the weight that’s been lifted off me.’ There’s a lot of pressure that goes along with the run that he was on and tying and breaking Anderson’s record. All that stuff, there’s a lot of pressure. So, he’s looking forward to the rematch.”