Khamzat Chimaev has expressed his respect for UFC legend Nate Diaz and is noticeably excited about their recently-scheduled bout. The 37-year-old Diaz made his MMA debut in 2004 and has fought in the UFC since 2007. Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Chimaev has competed as a professional MMA fighter since 2018 and has been in the UFC since 2020.
In the latest edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, ‘Borz’ noted that Diaz was already fighting in the UFC while the Swede was still in school. Addressing his highly-anticipated matchup against Diaz, Chimaev stated:
“He [Nate Diaz] said that he don’t like me, I don’t like him too… I like that guy. I grow up on him. I was in school when he was fighting in the UFC. It’s like, amazing to fight that guy.”
“And I like it, because you’ve seen that, like, in the movies. For me, UFC was like — when I was young — like a movie. I [was] never gonna get there… Now, I fight with [those guys] I was watching – American, like, guys from Chechnya, Russia. Now, I’m fighting with them, yeah.”
Watch Khamzat Chimaev discuss the topic at 2:05 in the video below:
Laura Sanko discusses the “lamb to slaughter” narrative ahead of Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz fight
The undefeated Khamzat Chimaev currently holds the No.3 spot in the UFC welterweight rankings. Chimaev will face the unranked Nate Diaz in a five-round welterweight bout that is set to headline UFC 279 on September 10th.
The Chimaev matchup will mark the final fight on Diaz’s current UFC contract. Diaz has consistently maintained that he doesn’t intend to immediately re-sign with the UFC, although he might return to the organization someday.
Many believe that Nate Diaz’s insistence on leaving the UFC has led the promotion to intentionally book him against a wrestling phenom like Khamzat Chimaev. The consensus is that Diaz has historically struggled against elite wrestlers, and a one-sided loss against Chimaev would dent Diaz’s brand value.
In a recent interview with Sportskeeda MMA, UFC commentator Laura Sanko dismissed this narrative. Noting that over the past several months both Diaz and Chimaev have wanted to fight one another, Sanko said:
“So, that leads me to believe that it was money that was not allowing it to get done. Whatever got figured out with the money side of things. But in terms of this idea that the UFC is forcing Nate to take this fight and they’re sending this lamb to slaughter… That’s not how this is at all.”
Watch Laura Sanko’s interview below: