Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) dethroned Adesanya to become middleweight champion at UFC 293 earlier this month, sweeping the judges’ scorecards for a unanimous decision win.
Having trained with Strickland before at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) was happy to see him become champion after putting the work in.
“He works hard, deserves it,” Chimaev said on his YouTube channel. “The guy is always in the gym. Now he’s got the belt. He has a good team, good coach. I have been there, training with that guy. They deserve that belt. He has been active, fights with everybody.”
Chimaev returns to middleweight when he faces Paulo Costa (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the UFC 294 co-main event on Oct. 21 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
He will look to emerge as the next title contender with a win over former title challenger Costa, and warns Strickland that he’s coming for him.
“Now it’s my time,” Chimaev said. “Smash that guy (Costa), then it doesn’t matter if it will be Izzy or Strickland or somebody else, we coming for them. Strickland! Coming for him. If you stay there, man, I’m coming for you, too.”
Undefeated Chimaev’s most recent appearance at 185 pounds came in September 2020 when he needed just 17 seconds to knock Gerald Meerschaert out.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.