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Colby Covington could be Khamzat Chimaev’s next fight if the Russian wins at UFC 273

Jason Burgos

UFC President Dana White says he already has an opponent in mind for Khamzat Chimaev’s next fight.

Before the UFC can get to the rising Russian star’s next bout he must overcome a serious challenge on Saturday night at UFC 273. Inside Jacksonville’s Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, Chimaev will face former title challenger and second-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian will be the unbeaten stars’ toughest test to date by far. Nevertheless, a day before the event the Chechen was a massive -490 betting favorite (via Draft Kings) to win.

Assuming Chimaev completes his mission in Florida, he would be considered a top contender to reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. But with the champ expected to face Leon Edwards next, Chimaev will instead face current No. 1 contender Colby Covington in his following bout, as White explained during a Friday appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

Related: UFC tonight – Fight card, betting odds, and watch times for UFC 273

Khamzat Chimaev’s next fight could be on ABC network

“I think that if Khamzat Chimaev wins this weekend, we see him and Colby Covington next,” White said. … “I have a fight coming up on ABC, and in a perfect world, if everything plays out right I would love to do Khamzat vs. Colby if Khamzat should win on Saturday night.”

A Chimaev vs Covington booking makes a great deal of sense for the UFC, especially if it is a fight on network television. Usman vs Edwards has already been confirmed by White, and the Englishman has rightfully earned a title fight. If Covington wins, it still may be a tough sell for him to get a third opportunity against Usman after having come up short in his two previous championship chances.

In the event that Covington beat Chimaev, the winner of the welterweight matchup this month between Vicente Luque and Belal Muhamad would likely be next in line. However, if Chimaev defeated the top-ranked fighter in the division, and only further added to his growing legend, there is no better fight to make than Chimaev versus whoever is the champion.

Chimaev must first beat Burns tomorrow night at UFC 273. The card kicks off at 6 PM ET with the early prelims on ESPN+. The core prelims follow at 8 PM ET on ESPN and ESPN+. Then the main card pay-per-view for $74.99 begins at 10 PM ET exclusively on ESPN+.