Fans have been left stunned by images of Khamzat Chimaev's "heavyweight" physique as he teases a potential switch to 185lb.
'Borz' has not fought since routinely choking out late replacement Kevin Holland during a catchweight clash in September, and is back in training ahead of a potential return. Chimaev was set to face UFC veteran Nate Diaz in his final fight at 170lb, but was unable to make the weight limit despite a dramatic attempt to cut in the final hours before the weigh-in.
After struggling significantly to bring down his weight, many inside the sport have suggested that Chimaev should now make the leap to 185lb where new champion Alex Pereira now holds the title. In perhaps the biggest hint yet that he could make the switch, Chimaev posted an image of his larger-looking ripped physique on Instagram while training in the gym.
Fans were stunned by his larger frame, with one writing: "Even Khamzat hit heavyweight before Jon Jones." Another agreed: "Looking like 185 for the wolf." One fan even suggested Pereira would be intrigued by the post: "Lol Alex looking at this like 'maybe Izzy for my first title defence'."
The image contained a caption with the Brazilian flag, which led one fan to have a theory regarding a planned title shot. He wrote: "Why would @alexpoatanpereira turn around and fight you in two months he doesn't owe you anything and who was the last person you even beat at 185? Yeah that don't get you a title shot.
"Just cause your last fight was almost at 185 cause you missed weight. So make up your mind where you want to fight and focus there or you'll maybe never deserve a shot in either division." One fan even predicted the outcome of a middleweight title clash, writing: "One touch by Alex you will go to sleep." A final fan even suggested another weight, adding: "Light heavyweight Borz."
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Chimaev looked set to be closing in on a title shot at 170lb but it appears he now has his eyes on an alternative title shot against Pereira himself. 'Borz' has even suggested that he could look to dethrone the Brazilian in his home country next year before moving on to face Colby Covington.
“Before, I was thinking if Kamaru Usman wins his fight, I will fight with him next,” Chimaev told ESPN. “But he lost. And I was thinking if [Israel] Adesanya won his fight, who’s he going to fight? There’s only me. And he lost as well. Now [Pereira and Adesanya] want to rematch in March.
"I don’t know what they’re going to do. So I said to Sean Shelby and Dana as well, I’m ready for Pereira in Brazil. Directly after that, March, if Colby wants to fight, I’d take my title and I’d go down to 170 and fight Colby as well.”