Khamzat Chimaev: I’m two fights from a title shot
Khamzat Chimaev started fighting as an amateur in Sweden in 2017, going 3-0, and eight months later turned pro earning two more wins regionally. A year after his very first bout, “Borz” (it means wolf, Chechnya’s national animal) signed with BRAVE Combat Federation, crushing opponents globally at welterweight and middleweight, in Bahrain, India, Jordan, and Abu Dhabi. Then “Borz” signed with the UFC.
Chimaev had a spectacular showing in his first two fights, setting a new record for back to back fights in the post-tournament incarnation of the sport, at just 10 days, dispatching both opponents in Round 1 and earning back-to-back performance bonuses, at middleweight and welterweight. Although opponents John Phillips and Rhys McKee are good fighters, some fans still weren’t on board. Then the UFC matched Chimaev with middleweight Gerald Meerschaert, and “Borz” won in 17 seconds. In three fights, Chimaev had set the record for the fastest three wins in league history, and won three performance bonuses, while receiving just two punches.
Now, UFC president Dana White, who called him “one of the most special fighters I’ve ever seen, if not the most special guy that I’ve ever come across,” plans to put Chimaev in a main event fight at UFC on ESPN+ 44 on December 19. There are not a lot of takers. UFC commentator Dan Hardy spoke with Chimaev on Fight Island where he’s cornering teammates from Allstars Training Center, and the first question was when did he think he’d be fighting for the title, and in what division?
“I think now, two more fights,” replied Chimaev. “I don’t know [which weight class]. It doesn’t matter for me. Both guys, maybe both same day, both fights, we’ll see.”
“I say to Dana White, just give me someone. [The potential opponents] say right now ‘This guy not top 10, not top 5,’ sometime they say nobody knows this guy. Everybody talk about me, how can you say nobody knows Khamzat? I think everybody’s scared. Everybody.”
“They ask me always, my manager calls me and says ‘Want to fight Thompson?’ I say yes. Then they say he don’t want fight. They say Chris Weidman, I say yes. Chris Weidman don’t want fight. Demian Maia don’t want fight. They say Neil Magny, I say doesn’t matter, don’t ask me. Just give me somebody. 19 December they say okay let’s go, 19 December. Then Darren Till say something, I say come to Abu Dhabi. He say ‘I have fight in December,’ I also have fight in December. We can fight here and then in December also.”
“Robert Whittaker, he would be a good fight for me. He’s ex-champion. I like this guy but I have to smash this guy. We have to see.”
A likely scenario is the fight in December will be at welterweight, and a truly spectacular win vs. a top opponent could get him a fight vs. division title holder Kamaru Usman, assuming the champ keeps winning. So what does Chimaev think of “The Nigerian Nightmare”?
“He’s also a fighter, good fighter. But he don’t have that knockout punch like I have,” said Chimaev. “He don’t have wrestling like me. What he going to do? If I do my hard work in the gym, nobody can beat me in a fight.”
UG, who do you think “Borz” should fight next?