Khamzat Chimaev out; Robert Whittaker now faces Ikram Aliskerov in UFC Saudi Arabia main event


The first ever UFC card in Saudi Arabia has a new main event.

Khamzat Chimaev has been forced off the card after falling “violently ill” and he’s being replaced by highly touted middleweight prospect Ikram Aliskerov, who now faces former UFC champion Robert Whittaker in the headliner on June 22 from Riyadh.

UFC CEO Dana White announced the change to the card on Thursday.

It’s obviously unfortunate news for Chimaev, who hoped to earn a title shot with a win over an established former champion like Whittaker. Now the undefeated Chechen has to wait until an undetermined time in the future once he’s healthy again to get back in action.

As for Aliskerov, the 31-year-old Russian gets the biggest opportunity of his life after he was originally scheduled to compete in the co-main event at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 93 card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Instead, he’ll push his fight date back one week with a chance to face Whittaker in the main event from Saudi Arabia.

Since arriving in the UFC, Aliskerov has been a human wrecking ball, tearing through his first two opponents in less than five minutes total time with knockouts over Warlley Alves and Phil Hawes. The only blemish on Aliskerov’s entire resume came back in 2019 when he lost to Chimaev.

Whittaker vs. Aliskerov now headlines the UFC Saudi Arabia card on June 22 with the event airing live on ABC in the United States.


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