Surging UFC welterweight and middleweight contender Khamzat Chimaev believes he would stop the current champion in either division.
Chimaev was the breakout UFC star of summer, 2020. The Chechen-Swede first picked up two wins in the span of 10 days on Fight Island in July, defeating John Phillips by first-round submission and Rhys McKee by first-round TKO, then picked up his third win of the season when he knocked out Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11, also in the first round.
While he’s yet to fight a ranked opponent in either division he fights in, he’s already confident he could defeat both UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
“Of course! Why not?” he said after his win over Meerschaert, when asked about fighting Usman and Adesanya (via MMA Junkie). “I did hard work for that. I’m ready. Both divisions.”
“If I do my hard work, nobody’s a challenge for me,” he added, offering a bold prediction for both potential matchups. “I’m going to stop both guys.”
Despite already feeling ready for both champions, Chimaev will likely have to take a few other fights before he gets the opportunity to fight for gold.
At present, he’s expected to take on long-time UFC welterweight contender Demian Maia—one of the best grapplers in MMA history—in his next fight. He’s very confident in his chances in that matchup.
“Yeah, why not? He’s the best ‘jitser’ in MMA,” Chimaev said. “If I stop him, choke him out, I’m the best ‘jitser’ in MMA!” he said. “We will see. … I am ready for everybody. Like I said to Dana, if you give me Demian Maia, I am ready for him. If you give me Brock Lesnar, I am ready for him, also.”
Chimaev is already earning comparisons to undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, and those comparisons are likely to continue if he keeps winning. Yet he reminds that he and the lightweight champion are different fighters.
“Everybody says, ‘You’re Khabib. Khabib No. 2,’ something like that. But I am Khamzat,” he said. “I can knock out people, submit the people, smash the people, everything. I have everything.”
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