Khamzat Chimaev returned from a long COVID-19 enforced hiatus this past weekend to remind everyone that he is one of the most dangerous fighters currently in the promotion. The Chechen-born Swede improved his record to 10-0 at UFC 267 with a brutal submission victory over the highly ranked Li Jingliang.
That win was his first since he scored a 17 second KO over Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020. Prior to that win he picked up stoppages over Rhys McKee and John Phillips. Chimaev’s ten pro wins have all come via stoppages.
Someone who knows more than most about MMA talent, and what it takes to be a UFC champion, is American Top Team founder Dan Lambert.
On his podcast ‘Punchin’ In’, Lambert—whose ATT has produced multiple UFC title winners—raved about Chimaev and said the sky was the limit for the 27-year-old.
“He is the Muslim Conor McGregor,” said Lambert (ht sportskeeda). “He got a ton of hype and a ton of talk after a couple of quick notice turnaround fights. The guy looks like he has got a crazy skill set but let’s see him fight somebody good. He hasn’t fought anybody really tough yet. It’s hard to get too excited about somebody or maybe it’s too easy to get excited but it’s a bit premature.”
“I’ve promoted fights, I’ve managed a ton of fighters, I’m fairly well-knowledged about how the business side of it works for some of these big promoters,” continued Lambert. “This guy is a fucking superstar. The UFC wants a Muslim superstar because Khabib was huge money to the UFC to send over there to shows in that part of the world. And there’s a lot of money over there and they want the local star. ... From a charisma side and marketability side, he wasn’t the most exciting fighter in the world... but this guy, Khamzat is oozing charisma.”
Even before the win over Li, UFC President Dana White was clear in stating he felt Chimaev was destined for greatness inside the Octagon. Since that win White has pondered the possibility of matching his newest star with ‘needle-mover’ Nate Diaz.
Negative reaction to that proposed remark elicited a typical response from White, who told detractors to “shut the fuck up and let me do my job.”
Chimaev, who has fought at both welterweight and middleweight in the UFC, has recently traded barbs with Colby Covington, who is scheduled to face Kamaru Usman for the 170 lb title this Saturday at UFC 268.