Chimaev (13-0) defeated Usman via majority decision at UFC 294 on Oct. 21. Immediately after the bout, the 33-year-old told ESPN he believed he broke his right hand during the first round, which limited his offense as the fight progressed. Chimaev was originally supposed to face Paulo Costa, but Usman, a former welterweight champion, took the fight on 10 days’ notice after Costa was ruled out due to injury.
Chimaev’s manager Majdi Shammas told ESPN that Chimaev did not break his hand but did suffer a torn ligament. He will wear a brace for the next four weeks, before reassessing the injury. At the moment, it does not appear he will require surgery.
Prior to the middleweight bout, UFC president Dana White said the winner would be next in line for a title shot against newly crowned champion Sean Strickland. Strickland (28-5) won the title in an upset decision against Israel Adesanya last month. Strickland has stated he does not believe Chimaev is deserving of a title shot, as he has just one win at middleweight in the last three years, however it does appear the UFC intends to book it and Chimaev’s hand will apparently not be a hurdle.
“He doesn’t f—ing deserve it, but here we are,” said Strickland, on UFC Fight Pass. “Give it to him. He sells a lot of fights. I’ll go f—ing fight the man for five rounds. But no, he has not earned it. Getting a decision over a welterweight off the couch does not f—ing earn it.”
Chimaev has been considered one of the top budding title contenders since he signed with the UFC in 2020. He just signed a new, exclusive long-term deal with the UFC before the Usman fight.