While we may not have seen Chimaev compete since last September because of his struggles with COVID-19, it still seems there’s momentum building behind the idea that he could return in the summer. Abdelaziz has already confirmed that’s the plan, even if Khamzat recently suggested he may retire as a result of the lingering implications associated with the virus.
Chimaev’s comeback countdown
Chimaev is more than capable of competing at two different weight classes - middleweight and welterweight. Nobody knows the direction he’s going to head in upon his return, but if Abdelaziz is to be believed, Chimaev could fight in either division.
“I personally like Magny or Kevin Holland both good test for the young man.”
At the moment, Neil Magny is ranked ninth in the welterweight rankings and Holland is 10th in the middleweight rankings.
In terms of matchmaking, these fights make a lot of sense. Chimaev was thrown into the deep end when the UFC planned for him to lock horns with Leon Edwards. In the eyes of many, Edwards has been on the verge of a title shot for quite some time now.
Going after a fighter in the top 10 - whether it be at 170 or 185 - is the correct way forward.
Chimaev is unpredictable both in and outside the cage. Even with Ali telling fans he’ll be returning around the summer, it is difficult to believe Abdelaziz based on how serious some of Chimaev's COVID-19 related symptoms were.
As for Magny and Holland, fans already know that Neil was interested in fighting Chimaev a few months back. That didn’t ultimately come to fruition, but one would have to think the American would fancy his chances based on what’s happened since then.
As for Holland, he has to work on his wrestling work if he wants to get into another big-time fight again.