Former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren isn’t sold on red-hot UFC welterweight prospect Khamzat Chimaev just yet.
Chimaev was the breakout star of the UFC’s four-even stint on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi in July. The Chechen-Swede won two fights in a 10-day span, submitting John Phillips at middleweight and Rhys McKee by TKO at welterweight—both in the first round.
Since then, he’s been the talk of the MMA world, and is now gearing up for a Saturday night middleweight fight with Askren’s training partner Gerald Meerschaert.
Askren believes Meerschaert is well-equipped to derail the Chimaev hype train when the cage door closes.
“The hard part about it is, we saw him twice in the UFC,” Askren said of Chimaev on Submission Radio“But the first guy he fought, John Phillips, he’s 1-4 in the UFC. So, he was very unsuccessful. And the second guy he fought was a new addition to the UFC. So, he has not won a UFC fight. And so it’s like, ok, well, he definitely smashed these guys, there’s no doubt about that, but are these guys Gerald Meerschaert level competition? And the answer to that, is no, they’re definitely not. So, sometimes people can look great against guys who aren’t as good, and then when they step into a little competition, it’s a lot harder. So, I don’t really know what to expect out of Chimaev. I know Gerald is really good, he’s really tough. But yeah, I don’t know about Chimaev yet.”
“I think one of the things is, Gerald’s really hard to submit. He’s really hard to control. He never wrestled, but fairly solid wrestling. So, one of the things I can see happening for sure, is Chimaev comes out like a ball of fire and isn’t able to do the damage, isn’t able to get the submissions, and then Gerald starts taking over as the fight moves on. I can see that happening one hundred percent.”
Despite being booked to fight Meerschaert this weekend, Chimaev is already linked to a fight with Demian Maia at welterweight thereafter. While Meerschaert has admitted he finds that double-booking disrespectful, Askren sees an opportunity for his training partner.
“I told Gerald it’s great,” Askren said. “It adds to the story, and you can steal somebody else’s hype. I mean, that’s for sure, right? So, there’s this hype behind Chimaev. Steal his hype. Make it yours. And, you know, Gerald probably can’t make welterweight, which is the Maia fight. So, just tell Maia to bump up or something. I think that’s the move for sure.”
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