At the end of September, Khamzat Chimaev's manager Majdi Shammas told SVT Sport that the star had changed countries and in his next fight would compete under the flag of the United Arab Emirates instead of Sweden.

At UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, the undefeated Chimaev – who has won all twelve professional fights in his career, six of them in the UFC – will have his next fight.

He will then face former champion Kamaru Usman, one of the world's biggest MMA stars who went ten years without losing before last year he lost twice to the current middleweight champion, Leon Edwards.

"He's the old version"

Usman accepted the fight on short notice when Brazilian Paulo Costa withdrew due to an elbow injury.

"Since day one when I came into the UFC, people have been talking about Khamzat vs. Usman. We're both good wrestlers. Usman is a fighter like me, but he's the old version. I'm new and different. It's like when a new iPhone is released. He's an iPhone 5 and I'm a Pro," Chimaev said at a pre-match press conference.

White: "The winner gets the title match"

The last time Chimaev had a fight was in September 2022 when he dominated American Kevin Holland and won in the first round.

But should he now defeat the legendary Usman, a middleweight title fight (84 kilograms) seems to be on the horizon, according to UFC president Dana White.

"The winner will get the next shot at the belt, subject to injuries and other things that can happen," White said.

"I'm not just looking for the title, I'm going to have everyone's head in the UFC. Crush someone, make money, be happy. If I finish all the opponents, they have to give me all the belts," Chimaev said.

Chimaev was born in Chechnya, but emigrated to Sweden at the age of 18. The now 29-year-old star has for years been heavily criticized for his relationship with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been called Vladimir Putin's attack dog. Kadyrov has also been accused of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of opponents.