Valuable few MMA followers had ever heard of Khamzat Chimaev when he made his stroll to the Octagon for his UFC debut on July 15, 2020, on what was then being referred to as “Struggle Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He had constructed a 6-0 file with six finishes on the regional circuit, however he was on nobody’s record of MMA’s hottest prospects as he ready to combat John Phillips in a middleweight bout.
And, even after a dominant win that night time, a second-round submission through D’Arce choke, there wasn’t a ton of buzz about him. However in a span of 67 days — the time from his first combat within the UFC to his third — he not solely established himself as a probable champion and a superior prospect but additionally as one of the vital common fighters within the UFC.
He improved his total MMA file to 9-0 and his UFC mark to 3-0 by ending Phillips by D’Arce on July 15, 2020; by knocking out Rhys McKee at 3:09 of the primary on July 25, 2020; after which by stopping Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds of the primary spherical on Sept. 19, 2020.
In these three fights, he received as soon as by submission and twice by KO, landed 87 of 120 important strikes, absorbed 1 important strike, in 3 makes an attempt, and was 3 of 4 on takedown protection.
There was a mania about him that was not like any after three bouts save maybe for Conor McGregor and Brock Lesnar.
The mania has died considerably, because it normally does, although it is not a lot about the best way that Chimaev has fought. He is received his subsequent three fights, two by submission and one by resolution, and has clearly established himself as championship timber. UFC CEO Dana White informed Yahoo Sports activities that the winner of the bout between Chimaev and Kamaru Usman on Saturday in Abu Dhabi within the co-main occasion of UFC 294 will face middleweight champion Sean Strickland subsequent for the title.
Chimaev, who beforehand skilled with Strickland in Las Vegas, was not leaping for pleasure over White’s announcement. And he did not see Strickland as a lot of a risk, regardless that he is coming off of a dominant victory over Israel Adesanya.
“I imply, I’ve taken him down, I’ve held him down, I’ve choked him and I’ve punched him,” Chimaev mentioned of Strickland. “I’ve achieved all these issues so I do not see one thing particular about him. Principally, he is a fighter’s fighter. He is fighter. For those who have a look at him, he is like an American cowboy from the flicks. That is the form of man he’s. We have achieved our work within the fitness center collectively and if they provide him to me, if I can combat him for the belt, that is what I will do. I wish to make the cash and get the belt, however I’ve nothing towards him.
“I feel in case you evaluate us skill-levels smart, I am ranges above him. I am in an entire totally different stratosphere from him. However he is man and fighter.”
The hype prepare that surrounded Chimaev has slowed considerably. A part of it’s as a result of he hasn’t fought as often so he hasn’t been within the public eye as a lot. He went 407 days after Struggle 3 within the UFC till Struggle 4. It was 162 days from Struggle 4 to Struggle 5 and 155 days from Struggle 5 till Struggle 6. He submitted Kevin Holland within the first spherical of UFC 279 in September 2022, so it will likely be 407 days between fights when he faces Usman on Saturday.
That is not, although, the only motive why the hype prepare has slowed. He was clearly the victory in his bout with Gilbert Burns on April 9, 2022, at UFC 273, successful a unanimous resolution. He wasn’t almost as dominant as he had been and he did not even carry out as nicely towards Burns as Usman had. Usman stopped Burns within the third spherical on Feb. 12, 2021, at UFC 258.
Burns landed extra important strikes (119-108) and at the next proportion (59-48) towards Chimaev. Burns was 0-for-5 on takedown makes an attempt towards Chimaev, who was 2-for-3 towards Burns. However when Burns fought Usman, it wasn’t almost as even. Usman outlanded Burns in important strikes, 83-45, and related at a a lot increased proportion, 61 to 41.
Usman informed Yahoo Sports activities that Chimaev’s pondering in all probability modified after his bout with Burns.
“Gilbert is a nasty dude,” Usman mentioned. “However I feel Khamzat realized after that combat he wasn’t going to run over everybody like he had been.”
Nobody ought to suppose much less of Chimaev, although. In his win over Holland at UFC 279, he pulled off a uncommon feat when he received a combat with out even touchdown a big strike. He was 1-for-2 in whole strikes thrown, although Holland, one of many sport’s most interesting strikers, did not try even one strike.
Chimaev took him down twice, collected 1:56 of management time and submitted Holland in 2:13. There aren’t many fighters who’re both able to successful a bout with out touchdown a big strike or accumulating 87.2 % of management time in it.
It units him aside as a result of he is so versatile, so freakishly robust and so assured.
If he will get previous Usman, particularly in dominant trend, then the early hype surrounding him was utterly justified.