UFC welterweight/middleweight Khamzat Chimaev made good on all his promise last time out, clubbing and subbing Li Jingliang at UFC 267 in October. That fight earned a Performance of the Night award and marked his return to action after almost a year on the sidelines.
After wowing audiences, and UFC President Dana White, with three quick wins in the Octagon in 2020, the Chechen-born Swede was struck with a nasty bout of COVID-19. That virus scuppered plans for Chimaev to face Leon Edwards. The extreme symptoms he suffered, including coughing up blood, also had Chimaev considering retirement.
However, with his battle against COVID now in the rear-view mirror we are now being treated to the kind of hyperbole over his skills that we were getting back in the summer of 2020. Back then we heard Daniel Cormier claiming Chimaev was destined to be a champ-champ and Khabib Nurmagomedov saying Chimaev deserved a top 10 opponent.
Some of the latest praise for Chimaev is coming from someone who knows the fighter more than most, former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson. He spoke to ESPN about his long-time training partner.
“I think he’d put Kamaru Usman to sleep honestly,” said Gustafsson (ht sportskeeda). “I think if he just touches his chin, it’s a big chance that Usman goes to sleep. I like Kamaru Usman, he’s a great champ and he’s just been breaking records and like you know, it’s a pleasure to see him fight because he’s a very good technical, you know I love his jab and his wrestling and you can see that he’s on top, Kamaru Usman. But I just can’t see him take Khamzat’s punches.”
In addition to claiming that the 10-0 Chimaev is ready to defeat the 20-1 UFC welterweight champion/top ranked men’s pound-for-pound fighter, Gustafsson also talked up what made Chimaev so special.
“I met a lot of MMA athletes and fighters and all that, and he stands out for sure, because of his dedication. Because of how he out-trains everybody. There’s nobody that trains like him, nobody. I haven’t seen it and I have been around the world seeing fighters train and having their camps and training for a fight. This guy just doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t feel any pain, just goes through it.”
Just like last time Chimaev was hot, we are getting treated to the shell-game of “nobody wants to fight me/him”, while Chimaev is also being called out by a host of fighters. Gilbert Burns, Neil Magny, Belal Muhammad and Kevin Holland are among some of the latest fighters to ask to face Chimaev.