Alexander Gustafsson has nothing but praise for Allstars Training Center teammate Khamzat Chimaev, claiming the undefeated UFC welterweight prospect ‘doesn’t get tired’ and works harder than everyone else in the gym.
Gustafsson, who returns to the Octagon against Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 210, credits Chimaev for giving him a run for his money in sparring despite the discrepancy in size and weight and claims the Chechen-born fighter is one of the hardest, and most precise, punchers he’s ever trained with.
“He’s a welterweight, but hits like a heavyweight, strong as a heavyweight, fast like a lightweight,” Gustafsson said of Chimaev on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting’s Steven Marrocco).
“He works harder than I ever worked,” he added. “He’s doing five sessions a day, at least. In my prime, when I fought Jon [Jones] and those guys back in the day, I did three sessions a day, and I did, like, 20 rounds every sparring [session]. My conditioning was crazy. But this guy, he outworks me. He doesn’t get tired.”
“I better keep my hands up. I’m not kidding. He hits hard. He has this thing that he’s fast, and he has very good precision, so he doesn’t need a lot of power to just knock people out, because he knows what he’s aiming at, and he hits every time.
“I’ve play-sparred with lot of guys, you’re just laughing and joking around and having a good time. But this guy, when he comes to spar, he comes to spar. It doesn’t matter if it’s me or another guy, he just goes.”
Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is one of the hottest prospects in the UFC and one of the most feared men in the promotion. Despite his bad-boy reputation, however, ‘The Mauler’ claims ‘Borz’ is a ‘pretty sensitive guy’ off-camera and is always looking out for his teammates.
“We’re like a family,” Gustafsson said. “I still have some issues sometimes, and I’ve got the team coming up. We’re there for each other, so we all did our part to help him out. He’s a guy with a lot of emotions and a lot of feelings. He’s a pretty sensitive guy. We all are different species, so we help each other out in different ways.”
“I help him if he needs,” he added later. “I see some stuff I try to give input in, but I’m not trying to interfere too much either,. because I’m not his coach. I’m his friend, and I make sure the coaches there – I know and I’m 100 percent confident they do what needs to be done when it comes to his training. I’m just trying to be there as support when it comes to...sometimes, there’s just crazy sh*t going on inside of you, feelings, thoughts, big fights coming up, big crowds, big arenas. I just try to be there as a friend. If he needs my help, I’m always there.”
Chimaev is reportedly slated to face top-three welterweight Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 while teammate Gustafsson will return to heavyweight against Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 210 on May 21 at a TBA location.