Though Chimaev and Costa won’t be fighting this Saturday at UFC 294 — an injury forced Costa to withdraw and be replaced by former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman — their beef might extend past this weekend if their social media interactions are to be believed.
Costa recently tweeted that his girlfriend and manager Tamara Alves received a direct message from Chimaev that featured a picture mocking Costa’s loss to Israel Adesanya. At UFC 294 media day, Chimaev was asked bout the exchange and he clarified his side of the story, dismissing it as harmless fun.
“She was writing to me — she deleted it — she write to me, ‘Please Khamzat, don’t take it seriously. He wants to make money,’ and she deleted that,” Chimaev said. “I just sent a funny picture to her to just have fun.
“I don’t have anything against his wife. She writes to me, ‘It’s not personal, we’re trying to make money.’ But I sent the picture and I told her, ‘People don’t make money that way. He has to be man.’ Jokes, jokes, trash talk, trash talk, but there has to be a line, don’t jump over this s***.”
Costa is well known for having an active and wacky social media presence, with Alves providing much of the content that fans see on his various accounts. She commented on the situation herself, accusing Chimaev of showing “his weakness” by messaging her.
Unfortunately for anyone looking forward to the middleweight contenders settling their score in the octagon, Costa was forced out of the contest due to an elbow infection. The late-notice change did not come as a surprise to Chimaev.
“Actually, when they said to me I’m going to fight for this guy, I was always thinking the guy could jump out whenever because he had so many fights he jumped out and didn’t make weight, and everyone speaks about how I didn’t make weight once in my life,” Chimaev said. “There was some plans to do that, it’s not my plans, but I can’t say everything here. Everyone speaks about my weight, not Paulo Costa, I don’t know how many times he missed weight.”
It’s worth noting that Costa does not have an official weight miss on his record, but he has definitely seen his fair share of shenanigans when it comes to tackling the scale. In 2019, Costa received a six-month suspension from USADA after twice using IVs after weigh-ins, and then in 2021 he forced a bout against Marvin Vettori to be changed from a middleweight contest to a light heavyweight contest when he admitted during fight week that he would not be able to make the 185-pound limit.
As far as Chimaev is concerned, pulling out of their fight was best for Costa’s health in more ways than one.
“His wife giving everyone his pictures, his wife doing everything, his media, everything,” Chimaev said. “Somebody sent to me that his wife put up that he had some problems with his elbow. I hope he’s going to get good.
“The guy is just trying to make money, but he lost his chance, he went home without money. Of course, when somebody gets surgery it’s not good. Anyway, if he had come to the cage, it would be more bad for him, I could hurt him more.”
Chimaev is firmly focused on Usman now, with a middleweight title shot potentially on the line if UFC CEO Dana White is to be believed. Guaranteed or not, an impressive performance on Saturday will put Chimaev well ahead of Costa in the contenders’ line.
And if Costa can return to the form that earned him a title shot in the past, Chimaev still welcomes a future clash.
“No, if he holds on to the top [spot], of course, I’m going to fight him,” Chimaev said when asked if he’d moved on from the Costa matchup. “I’m not here to fight once, twice, at least I’m going to be here 10 years so we’ll see.”