Khamzat Chimaev eyeing July return against Neil Magny

Khamzat Chimaev is looking to make a return to the octagon this July and is targeting a bout against Neil Magny for his comeback.

The Russian-born Swedish fighter made his debut for the company in July of 2020 with a stunning display of dominance against John Phillips on Fight Island, before making a 10-day turnaround to fight again in a different weight class and destroy Rhys McKee.

He’d then return for a third fight less than two months later when he took on Gerald Meerschaert, in what was seen as a big step up in competition for Chimaev – who had mauled his previous two opponents with takedowns and fearsome ground and pound. Instead, he blasted Meerschaert with a one-punch knockout in just 17 seconds to get the entire world’s attention.

He would go on to call out a number of fighters with the UFC keen to make him a main event bout before the year was up, and he eventually got matched up with Leon Edwards.

That fight got called off when Edwards contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised and the bout would be rescheduled twice more for 2021, only for Chimaev to be suffering with ill-effects of the virus himself and have to pull out.

The bout was eventually scrapped in its entirety, with Edwards fighting Belal Muhammad instead and Chimaev was so frustrated with his health problems that he considered retiring from the sport according to a post on his Instagram page.

But now as he nears full health once again, his manager Ali Abdelazziz has told ESPN that a July return is in his eyesight and he wants Magny as his next opponent.

Magny stepped into the main event slot on Fight Island in January for his fight with Michael Chiesa when Chimaev withdrew with illness, and was soundly beaten in a five round decision.

‘The Haitian Sensation’ has been well known for his wrestling skills and powerful striking during his UFC run to date and was touted as a potential champion at welterweight, but his defeat to Chiesa has set him back a few steps in that quest.

A bout against Chimaev would be interesting with both men’s styles but it’s unknown whether or not Magny is interested in the fight in July, with some reports suggesting he may look to try and fight sooner.

The welterweight division could be moving swiftly in the coming months, with champion Kamaru Usman making his second defence of the year next month in a rematch against Jorge Masvidal. Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque will square off at UFC 260, while Edwards is looking to get back in the cage following the ending to his fight with Muhammad with Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington potential opponents for him.

Chimaev is 9-0 in his professional career and is currently unranked following his inactivity due to illness. Magny is currently ranked at number nine following his defeat to Chiesa.

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