The hottest stock in the UFC right now might belong to one Khamzat Chimaev. The undefeated 26-year-old, who fights out of Stockholm’s All-Star Gym, only joined the UFC in July, but has already put himself into title conversations at 170 and 185 lbs.
Chimaev’s first UFC appearance was at UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige. There he beat John Phillips with a second round brabo choke. He TKO’d Rhys Mckee ten days later. In September he KO’d Gerald Meerschaert in just 17 seconds.
Now Chimaev, who seems to be one of UFC President Dana White’s favourite fighters at the moment, is rumoured to be booked in a five round main event slot versus a ranked opponent. Both Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson have been mentioned as possible opponents, but nothing has been officially announced yet.
During virtual media day for UFC 254 UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was asked about Chimaev. Like Nurmagomedov, Chimaev originally hails from the north caucus region of Eurasia. Chimaev’s family is from Chechnya, whereas Nurmagomedov is from neighbouring Dagestan.
When asked if he believed the hype around Chimaev, ‘The Eagle’ answered in the affirmative, stating: “Of course” (h/t MMA Fighting).
“He finishes all his opponents. I think he deserves. . . Ali [Abdelaziz] told me he’s gonna fight - because we have the same manager - Ali told me he’s gonna fight with tough opponent, five rounds in December. This is very interesting. Main event in the UFC, this is very good attention. Good opportunity for him and if he wins this fight, next fight I think he deserves next fight a contender fight.”
Nurmagomedov said he didn’t know who Chimaev’s next opponent would be, but made it clear he believes the 9-0 fighter deserves a chance to prove his worth against one of the best.
“I don’t know what the UFC is going to do with him, about his next opponent, but in my opinion, I think he deserves a top 10, top 15 (opponent). In my opinion, it’s top 10. He deserves a fight with someone very tough opponent, like five rounds. Then, after this one, he deserves a contender fight. This is my opinion.”
Nurmagomedov is currently in Abu Dhabi, atop the UFC’s so-called ‘Fight Island’. There he will defend his title versus Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254 on October 24.