There’s only one thing Dana White likes more than money and that’s active fighters, because active fighters make money. That is why the president of the UFC, Dana White, is a huge fan of the Chechen born Khamzat Chimaev.
A fighter that wants to fight as much as possible no matter the opponent, no matter the weight AND can work the mic, is exactly what Chimaev brings.
Dana must have been grinning ear to ear when in his post-fight interview after a dominant debut victory on Fight Island ‘Borz’ said to John Anik, “I feel amazing. I want to fight next week,” and then declared, “I’m going to be champion. Smash everybody.”
$150,000 in performance bonuses have gone Chimaev’s way already, as well as generously being placed at 14th on the welterweight rankings. He’s certainly being looked after.
Dana’s preferential treatment didn’t end there as we know. The twice delayed fight with Leon Edwards is one that the number three ranked man in the division could really do without, but is a fantastic opportunity for Chimaev.
Let’s not forget that just six months ago the Englishman could have been fighting for the title at UFC 251 against Kamaru Usman on Fight Island, so five rounds with an undefeated fighter that has a similar fighting style to Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t ideal.
Unfortunately for Edwards, facing Chimaev has ended up being his only option. After turning down that Usman fight, as well as a match up with number one ranked Colby Covington and number 11 Geoff Neal in 2020, it was a matter of taking this fight or losing your ranking completely. That sort of attitude isn’t thought of too fondly at this elite level.
Dana White also sees Leon Edwards as a bit of a problem. The 29-year-old is simply not a pay-per-view fighter.
He’s featured just once on a pay-per-view card and only then on the prelims. His highlight reel is almost non-existent with seven out of his ten UFC victories coming via decision, and he doesn’t use the mic to help generate any excitement towards him either.
But with the way the ranking system works in the UFC, a man as skilled in mixed martial arts as Edwards is will always slowly rise towards the top of them despite the lack of star power he holds.
So the timing of Chimaev’s arrival couldn’t have been better for Dana. My feeling is that he beats Leon Edwards, then Edwards will be left having to start his run at a title shot all over again and that could see him look to fight under a different promotion.
The lure of a better chance at gold and more money over at Bellator may be too easy an option for Leon and that would also mean joining his brother, Fabian Edwards, who fights in their middleweight division.
Finding Leon another fight while Chimaev continues to fully recover from COVID-19 could have easily been done, but Dana has chosen just to postpone until March 13th. More evidence to suggest the president knows the Chechen can help move him aside.
If it plays out as such, the UFC president will be a happy man replacing a dangerous but unmarketable fighter in Leon Edwards with a future star in Khamzat Chimaev. We would also be left with a real possibility that the Chechen could get a title shot before the year is up.
Kamaru Usman is the current champion, but again is a man who fails to excite even the avid UFC fan and the sales of his pay-per-views rely heavily on his challenger.
Having Chimaev as his star of the welterweight division and a poster boy for the UFC would please Dana White greatly. He’s already mentioned that someone new will arise once Conor McGregor is done, could this be the beginning of a passing of the guard?