Coach: Colby Covington is ‘the next step’ for Khamzat Chimaev

Khamzat Chimaev’s ascent to the top could see him pass by Colby Covington.

The undefeated fighter’s trainer Andreas Michael thinks the next challenge for his star student should be Covington, a two-time UFC title challenger and the No. 2 welterweight in MMA Fighting’s world rankings.

“I would love to see him fight Colby,” Michael said Monday. MMA hour. “Colby would be a good fight. We’re looking to fight the best, and Colby is the next step up, and we keep going. … We should be fighting the best, and if we’re not good enough to be there, then we shouldn’t be there. That’s how I think. Because right now, it’s not getting any easier.

“It’s getting harder and harder, and if you can’t handle these guys who [UFC welterweight champion Kamaru] Usman managed, so we’re going to have a problem. And he can handle them, and he will handle them, and he will win.

In his last outing at UFC 273, Chimaev improved to 11-0 as a pro and 5-0 in the UFC with a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Gilbert Burns. Prior to the fight, Burns was widely considered the most important test of Chimaev’s career, and the fight lived up to that expectation as Chimaev went to the cards for the first time in his career after three round trips. Chimaev had finished his first four UFC opponents.

Given the damage suffered against Burns, Michael wants to see Chimaev take his time before fighting again.

“That’s where I have to use my experience now and hold it back, because fights like that take a little while for the body to recover,” Michael said. “I would like him to fight maybe in September, October, somewhere there. If he listens to me.

The lineup to fight Covington is a long one – the hot-headed American has fostered a number of potential feuds and was recently called up by fellow welterweight contender Belal Muhammad.

If Covington signs for a fight with Chimaev, Michael sees an ideal scenario where Usman first defends his title against Leon Edwards and then Chimaev goes through Covington to earn his own championship opportunity.

“I just hope we take steps forward,” Michael said. “People talk about other fights and for me, if I could choose, I’m not interested in any other fight. I want steps forward, I don’t want steps back. I don’t want anyone building their name on our name. I want us to build our name on other guys names if you know what I mean.

He later added, “At the end of the day hopefully we get Colby and then with God’s help we win this fight and then you say we get the winner of Usman vs. Leon.”

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