Welterweight Thompson was rumored to have been lined up to face Chimaev in September, only to insist that he had no interest in facing the rising star before accepting a fight against the more established Geoff Neal in December.

Despite only having the first of his three UFC fights in July, Chimaev has been tipped for the top by promotion president Dana White and was handed a match-up with Leon Edwards, who Thompson had called out on Twitter, before the welterweight number three was forced to pull out earlier this week due to catching Covid-19.

“Khamzat has had one fight at welterweight and now he’s ranked number 15,” Thompson told The Score, reflecting on Chimaev’s sole win in the division when he beat novice Rhys McKee on “Fight Island”. “How does that work?

“At this point, it doesn’t look like the rankings really matter anymore. And that kind of stinks, because where do you lie?

“How do you work your way up then? Do you have to talk cr*p on social media? I’m not going to do that.

“It’s wild. Now that the UFC is owned by an entertainment company, it’s the bigger, better fight – whatever fight seems the most exciting, that the fans want to see, is the fight they’re going for.”

Thompson was denied by a draw when he challenged Tyron Woodley for the title in 2016 before losing by decision in a rematch the following year.

That was the first of three defeats in five fights, including a knockout defeat to former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, that have made the fifth-ranked “Wonderboy” something of a gatekeeper in the division.

The 37-year-old said he believed that Chimaev’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who he shares with lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov, had been “kind of throwing stuff out there” about the pair meeting.

“I got on Instagram one night and I saw it kind of blew up: ‘Wonderboy’s fighting Khamzat, Wonderboy’s fighting Khamzat,'” he explained, adding that he had not been offered any deal.

“They were all foreign media outlets and I’m like, ‘What? What is this?’ I had no idea what it was, and I called my manager, and they were like, ‘I have no idea what this is.’

“It was just kind of his team trying to get that fight. They were kind of leaking some stuff to the media, saying this thing was actually happening. That’s just my theory.

“The guy’s had one [UFC] fight at welterweight. One fight. What gives this guy the right to jump over everybody that worked their behinds off to get to where they’re at? It just didn’t make sense.”

White admitted that he was willing to make an exception for Chimaev in arranging multiple fights at a time, and the Sweden-based “Borz” likened the promotion boss to James Bond after he helped him to secure a VISA for his third outing, knocking out Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds in September.

Thompson claimed that Edwards had been told to fight Chimaev in order to retain his place among the top-ranked contenders.

“I kind of jabbed at him a little bit on Twitter, in the nicest way possible,” said Thompson. “He just kind of turned me down: ‘No, I’m not fighting you. You’re ranked number five.’

“He was only number three and he said it doesn’t make sense. I was like, “What? I’m still in the top five, man. Come on.'”

Thompson and Neal will headline UFC Fight Night 183 in Las Vegas on December 19.

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