The rising prospect Chimaev is coming off a hard-fought war against former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns in April at UFC 273. Chimaev went into the bout with a 100 percent finish rate, having knocked out or submitted all ten of his prior opponents. Burns proved to be the toughest test for “Borz,” who ultimately edged out Burns to come out on top of the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his professional career.
Chimaev is slated for a headlining bout with fan favorite Diaz for UFC 279 on Sep. 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former middleweight title challenger Vettori shared his thoughts on the upcoming matchup between Diaz and Chimaev. While he does agree with Chimaev being the favorite, Vettori thinks that the clash would have been very different if Chimaev had not endured the challenge in his last outing against Burns.
“Obviously, he’s the favorite,” Vettori said during the UFC Paris Thursday pre-fight press conference. “I think more like, if he would have fought Diaz before he fought “Durinho,” Diaz would have had more time because he would be so full of himself, he might have gassed (out), and then if it was a five rounder, Nate maybe could have capitalized.
“But now he knows, if he is a little bit smart, he realized things are not like when I’m fighting chumps in the gym, and I’m just going to run over them, over and over, if you fight somebody very solid. Of course, he’s the favorite.”
Vettori Wants To Fight Chimaev Down the Line
Vettori challenged the current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya for the gold at UFC 263 in Jun. 2021. It was the second time they clashed inside the cage, with Adesanya improving his first split decision win to a unanimous decision.
Despite the two defeats to Adesanya, the 28-year-old Italian believes he could still lay his claim for the title if he gets past former 185-pound title holder Robert Whittaker this Saturday in the co-main event of the night at UFC Paris.
Vettori talked about the idea of a showdown with Chimaev, who could compete at both welterweight and middleweight. He expressed his willingness to compete against Chimaev at some point.
“With Khamzat, yeah, I would love to fight him,” Vettori added. “Later on, for sure. Let’s see if he stays down, if he comes up. But yeah, for sure, that’s a fight that excites me.”
Diaz Is Fighting Out His UFC Contract
Diaz had been involved in a public feud with the UFC and company president Dana White over the last year. With only one fight left on his contract, Diaz will face the top-ranked contender Chimaev without signing a new deal with the promotion. He wanted to explore different opportunities outside of the sport but could not do so without the organization’s permission or until he completed the agreement.
Community members bashed the promotion for giving Diaz such a tough matchup for what could be his final showing under the banner. Diaz would be looking to become a free agent with a statement win over Chimaev.
Vettori shared a similar sentiment while giving his take on the upcoming bout.
“Like everybody on his last fight of the contract, they get like, I’m speaking for Nate, they get another OG or something like that. He’s getting an up-and-comer. It’s a fun fight.”