Khamzat Chimaev is rapidly becoming a problem for the UFC welterweight division. The 27-year-old out of Allstar Training Center has looked nothing short of unstoppable in his four-fight Octagon career, absorbing just one significant strike in all fights combined. And while it may be early days yet for his prospects as a title contender, it’s getting harder and harder for fans and pundits to not see Chimaev as an immediate factor at 170 lbs.
And from the sound of things, it’s getting harder for other fighters in the division to avoid that conclusion as well. Recent UFC title contender Gilbert Burns sat down with the Trocação Franca podcast, and one of the subjects that came up was Chimaev and his fearsome potential. And while Burns may not be expecting, or even see the sense in, a contract offer from the UFC to fight the Chechen-born Swede just yet, he admitted that if the paperwork were put in front of him, he’d have a hard time turning down the fight.
“I don’t think I’ll fight him while he’s ranked at No. 10,” Burns said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I think he’ll fight one more time and, [after] winning against a top-5 or top-6 [welterweight], getting closer to the top 5, I’d fight him, no problem at all. Top-10, I wouldn’t fight [him]. But that’s me fighting against myself. Top-10 doesn’t make sense, but I want to fight, so it’s complicated.
“I’ve asked to fight Neil Magny many times, who’s around No. 9, and the UFC didn’t want to give me this fight because of the ranking situation, so they won’t even offer me Khamzat because they just said they wouldn’t give me Neil Magny because of the rankings. But man, I want to fight so bad, it would be hard for me to say no to a fight.”
Burns is just two fights into his most recent five-bout contract with the UFC, but says he’s eager to get through his remaining bouts so he can renegotiate. And while he apparently doesn’t see himself facing Chimaev right now, he does believe they will meet in the Octagon eventually. In the meantime, while Burns thinks the hype Chimaev has gotten is great, and that the skills he’s displayed are legit, he also feels there may be a couple tough challenges looming.
“I think there are many high-level wrestlers and grapplers in the division that would complicate things for him,” Burns said. “Aside from Kamaru, who’s also a very complicated fight for him, I think myself and Colby [Covington] complicate [things for] him.
“We haven’t seen him against a high-level striker in this division, someone like Vicente [Luque] and ‘Wonderboy,’ two very dangerous strikers where one hand that lands can knock you out. Judging by his wrestling, I think myself and Colby would make things very difficult for his game, and Vicente and ‘Wonderboy’ would make things hard for him on the feet.”
With the way Chimaev has been performing, it really does feel like he could be ready for just about any fighter the UFC chose to throw at him. And with a spot in the welterweight rankings now secure, it seems likely that whoever he faces will be a fairly notable force in the division. Will that be Gilbert Burns? Maybe not right now. But it’s hard not to think a booking like that one is just around the corner for what looks to be a sure-fire future title contender.