Stephen Thompson won't be next for Khamzat Chimaev. The Swedish fighter has been UFC's fastest-rising star in the second half of 2020. His overall Octagon time has been minimal and so has the amount of damage that he has taken.
The UFC has made it no secret that they want to make Chimaev their next big star and in what many considered an unprecedented move, the promotion double-booked him against Gerald Meerschaert and Demian Maia.
Ariel Helwani of ESPN revealed that there were talks about UFC wanting to book #6 ranked Welterweight Stephen Thompson against Khamzat Chimaev, but after reaching out to Wonderboy, it was made clear that there was no interest on Stephen Thompson's side.
Instead, Helwani did reveal that Stephen Thompson is more interested in fighting top-ranked opponents like Leon Edwards or Jorge Masvidal:
Why Khamzat Chimaev makes no sense for Stephen Thompson
It's hard to blame Stephen Thompson for rejecting a fight against Khamzat Chimaev. While UFC wanting to push a new star is understandable, this is closer to skyrocketing someone to the top.
It's a high-risk low-reward fight for Stephen Thompson and it doesn't do much to legitimize himself back in the Top 5 if he was to win. Leon Edwards, on the other hand, makes perfect sense as an opponent since it would be two highly-ranked opponents against each other.
Leon Edwards hasn't fought in over a year and it's approaching a full year since Stephen Thompson last fought. UFC has made it clear that they're not going to give Leon Edwards an immediate title shot, which is why it makes sense for him to face a former title challenger in Stephen Thompson.
As for Khamzat Chimaev, perhaps an aging Demian Maia would be the perfect next step for him. It would be wrong on the UFC's part to potentially damage his career by putting him up against opponents on a whole different level.Published 27 Sep 2020, 09:52 IST