Luke Rockhold believes Khamzat Chimaev turned down a potential clash against him because the welterweight prospect knows he won't be able to grapple with the former middleweight champion. Although Chimaev's wrestling is highly rated by several fans and analysts, Rockhold believes he's on a different level when it comes to that part of the game.
Rockhold feels that while he'd cause 'Borz' some problems on the feet, he would thoroughly outclass the Russian-born Swede in the grappling department in a potential clash. During a recent interaction with TMZ Sports, the Californian stated:
"He just knows that, you know, he can't grapple with me. He can't grapple with me and I can put up with him on the feet so... They talk about his wrestling but no one competes with me in the ground."
Watch the interview below:
Khamzat Chimaev previously stated that although he wanted to fight Rockhold, he was advised against it by his coach and manager. That matchup would've taken place at 185lbs. However, since Chimaev is currently pursuing title ambitions in the 170lbs division, his team felt it would be better if he didn't move up right now. (h/t Frontkick.Online).
What's next for Khamzat Chimaev and Luke Rockhold?
Khamzat Chimaev is currently set to take on Gilbert Burns in a crucial welterweight clash at UFC 273 on April 9. The pay-per-view event is set to take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. A victory on Saturday against former title contender Burns will push Chimaev one step closer to a shot at the welterweight gold.
According to UFC president Dana White, 'Borz' is likely to fight former interim champion Colby Covington in a potential No.1-contender's clash if he manages to beat 'Durinho' at UFC 273.
As for Luke Rockhold, the former champ wants to fight against either top contenders or big names in the middleweight division. Rockhold has made it clear that he wants to fight for the title down the line and is willing to do whatever it takes to earn the opportunity:
"I'm looking for a big fight. I want to go back to the title. One fight, two fights, whatever it takes, I just want to put myself back in the chat."
The last time Luke Rockhold stepped inside the octagon was in 2019 against Jan Blachowicz, where he lost via knockout in the second round. Rockhold is expected to take on Paulo Costa upon his return to the octagon. He revealed that he was offered a fight against the Brazilian but Costa is yet to accept the bout.