The UFC recently announced that they’ll be heading back to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294 on October 4th, and Chael Sonnen claims that a major middleweight fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa is in the works for the co-main event.
“Well, so my understanding is Khamzat is going to fight Paulo Costa,” Sonnen told Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour show. “They’ve even got a date. They’re gonna go out [to] Abu Dhabi, that’s a co-main event — very relevant, they’ll be there for three rounds instead of five — Islam [Makhachev] on the top of the bill.
“Now the relevance to Islam on the top of the bill is Islam’s gonna fight the winner of Charles [Oliveira] and Benny [Dariush], and that’s still three weeks away. So that means the card that I’m referencing out in Abu Dhabi and the placement of co-main event, we’re four, five months away in a best-case scenario. So it looks like we’re gonna keep those two on ice.”
Reliably breaking big matchmaking news like this is typically more something we’d expect from Helwani rather than Sonnen, so we’ll have to wait and see if it actually becomes a reality, but Costa himself had indicated recently after signing a new lucrative deal with the promotion that he was targeting big fights against the likes of Chimaev and Sean Strickland.
And there is already a rivalry between the two that escalated when they got into a tense stand-off and verbal altercation at the UFC PI in Las Vegas last September, so it’s certainly a very marketable fight and one that could pave the way for either man to get into the title picture at 185lbs.
At this stage UFC 294 doesn’t have any fights attached to it, though Sonnen’s assertion that lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will headline the card seems like a solid possibility, although fans may have been hoping to see him perform again earlier than October after making his first successful title defense with a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Volkanovski back in February.