Two weeks, two fights, two weight classes, two wins, two stoppages. That sums up Khamzat Chimaev’s Fight Island experience.
The Swede star has seen a rocket ship strapped to his back since his UFC debut, where he completely destroyed middleweight John Phillips. An immediate takedown followed by 5 minutes of fierce ground and pound saw the fight enter a second round, only for the exact same thing to happen. A quick takedown and ground and pound dismantled the powerful Welshman, before Chimaev secured a d’arce choke for the win.
Crazily, his second fight was arguably more impressive. Chimaev cut weight down to 171lbs to take on Rhys McKee as a short notice fight was put together just to showcase the All-Star gym members abilities. McKee literally didn’t land a single offensive manoeuvre in the fight, being taken down and battered for half a round before the referee showed mercy and ended it.
In his two fights combined, Chimaev has taken just 2 strikes and dished out 192 of his own. In just 9:20 of octagon time, Chimaev has built himself a reputation as a potential contender to Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya’s crowns at the top of their respective divisions.
After his dominant win over McKee, Chimaev made a very bold statement. Obviously said largely in jest, but you can’t help but feel the confidence coming from him that he may well believe what he said.
“Give me the champion. 84 kilos (185lbs), 77 kilos (170lbs), it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna smash them both. Same day.“
Obviously, we already know how good Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya are. We’ve seen Usman dominate opponents in a similar fashion for a full 25 minutes and we’ve seen Adesanya knock out the best middleweights in the world. Chimaev is only 8-0 but the fashion in which he’s secured wins so far has got people talking about potential match ups with the champions.
Personally, I feel it’s far too early. Both divisions are completely stacked with top contenders and quality opponents that a title shot needs to be correctly earned. I think deep down, Chimaev knows that too.
Following the final Fight Island event, Chimaev took to Twitter to call out Demian Maia. Maia is currently ranked at #7 in the welterweight division and his last fight was a submission win over Ben Askren. While Chimaev is also a heavy wrestler his output is a much higher level than that of Askren. After watching some tape on him, Chimaev is more than just a straight up wrestler. He has some good kicking techniques and some power in his hands too. While he is definitely good enough to compete with Maia now, I feel it’s still too early to jump that high up the rankings.
The likes of Robbie Lawler, Anthony Pettis and Vicente Luque are all available and would be a steep step up in quality from anything he has fought before. A short break will do Chimaev no harm, his reputation isn’t going to falter between now and October/November time. A jump up to the middle of the rankings seems like too quick a push to me.
Build him up, let him dominate a few more guys. If he’s as good as he thinks he is, he should coast through them too, right? If not, which I expect to be the case – then he’ll only improve as a fighter which will make his future bouts more exciting too. We saw Adesanya fight three times in a five month period before he took on Derek Brunson. A similar push wouldn’t hurt Chimaev before you moved him up to more top quality opponents.
The facts are though, the UFC has a new star on their hands and Khamzat Chimaev is ready to go all out.