Khamzat Chimaev is relishing the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Paulo Costa at UFC 294. The Swedish star will be making his official middleweight debut in a country that he has happy memories of.

Chimaev has fought four times in Abu Dhabi. He was widely expected to be on the UFC 294 card and is delighted to be returning to a country where he gets a lot of love,

“It’s like I sat there, I feel like home. I fight before for the UFC in Abu Dhabi as well, like Muslim country… my brothers support me a lot. I want to show my love and show my fight. In Abu Dhabi it’s like a different energy they love me so much there.”

Nothing special

The fight with Costa has been the subject of speculation for months. The Brazilian must have been on Chimaev’s radar for a long time and the Swedish star sounds very confident he will be able to extend his undefeated record,

“That guy is like okay fighter, nothing that special, talks too much. My last opponent talked too much as well but when he comes to the cage I squeeze his head off. I make them cry. I don’t think that guy is too big, no problem I have smashed everybody.” ”

Last time out Chimaev weighed in at 178.5lbs for a welterweight fight. As a result his UFC 279 headliner with Nate Diaz was cancelled and the 29 year old was matched with Kevin Holland instead.

High regard

It is a sign of Chimaev’s status that he was able to miss weight by such a huge margin and still secure a spot on the card with the UFC rejigging fights to ensure he still had an opponent. He has won his first six fights for the promotion with five of those wins coming inside the distance.

He is clearly someone who moved the needle and he will surely get a rapturous reception from the fans in Abu Dhabi. Chimaev will have been coming off a year long layoff when he finally returns to the octagon in October and says he is just happy to be back,

“It feels amazing to smash somebody and make money, be happy it’s my work. I’m happy to be back.”