Khamzat Chimaev out; Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov set as new UFC on ABC 6 headliner

The UFC’s debut in Saudi Arabia has taken a critical hit with Khamzat Chimaev out of the main event against Robert Whittaker.

Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) has been forced to withdraw from the UFC on ABC 6 middleweight headliner against Whittaker (25-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) on June 22 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, due to being “violently ill.”

Replacing Chimaev in the top-billed matchup will be one of his former opponents in Ikram Aliskerov (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who has been pulled from Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 58 co-main event matchup with Antonio Trocoli and will face Whittaker instead.

UFC CEO Dana White announced the chance in a social media video on Thursday.

After a record-setting start to his UFC career in 2020 with three victories within 66 days of his debut, Chimaev has struggled to find consistent activity. He’s fought just once in the past two years, with his most recent performance a majority decision win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 this past October.

Chimaev, 30, was poised to secure a title shot with a win over former champion Whittaker, but now his future is again clouded with uncertainty after one of his teammates posted an image of a man tagged as Chimaev in the hospital on Thursday morning.

Whittaker, for his part, was willing to accept a replacement opponent for UFC on ABC 6. He posted to social media before news of Chimaev’s withdrawal was verified, claiming he’s ready for “anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

The latest UFC on ABC 6 lineup now includes:

  • Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov

  • Sergei Pavlovich vs. Alexander Volkov

  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Daniel Rodriguez

  • Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Muhammad Naimov

  • Volkan Oezdemir vs. Johnny Walker

  • Joilton Lutterbach vs. Shara Magomedov

  • Jared Gordon vs. Nasrat Haqparast

  • Nicolas Dalby vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov

  • Farid Basharat vs. Montel Jackson

  • Muin Gafurov vs. Kyung Ho Kang

  • Magomed Gadzhiyasulov vs. Brendson Ribeiro

  • Abu Azaitar vs. Denis Tiuliulin

  • ChangHo Lee vs. Xiao Long

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ABC 6.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie