Khamzat Chimaev could be UFC’s new superstar after his victory against one of the best fighters of his generation in Kamaru Usman… but can he surpass Conor McGregor and Jon Jones?
- Khamzat Chimaev’s star power continues to grow following his win at UFC 294
- The undefeated phenom dominated Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi on Saturday
- He certainly has the potentially to surpass Conor McGregor and Jon Jones
Khamzat Chimaev has well and truly put his name on the map following a big win against Kamaru Usman at UFC 294.
Following his win over the former welterweight king, many are comparing his rise to the likes of Conor McGregor and Jon Jones.
Fans have been reluctant to praise ‘Borz’ given the fact that he has had fairly easy fights inside the Octagon. However, the bout with Usman was arguably his toughest test yet. Now, he’s come through against one of the best fighters of his generation, proving without doubt he is among the very best.
There is a possibility that he could go on and secure multiple titles, providing he can make 170 without any trouble. 2024 could be the year where the Russian-born star claims his first title, and there will be no stopping him once he’s had a taste of success.
Mail Sport takes a look at what Chimaev needs to do to surpass some of the greats in the UFC.
Khamzat Chimaev has the potential to be one of the greatest stars in the history of the sport
Following his recent win over Kamaru Usman, many have compared his rise to that of Conor McGregor
HOW HE HAS FARED IN THE UFC SO FAR
Right from day one in the UFC, you always knew he was going to be something special.
‘Borz’ made his debut for the promotion back in 2020 and made light work of John Phillips – submitting the Welshman early on in the second round. There is no better feeling than to secure a finish on your UFC debut. Fighters are then looking for a quick turnaround to keep the momentum going.
Most will take a few months to prepare and make sure they’re in the right mindset to compete again. Try 10 days for Chimaev. After his win over Phillips, ‘Borz’ revealed he would stay in Abu Dhabi in case anyone in the welterweight or middleweight division pulled out of a fight.
Dana White worked his magic and stuck Chimaev in with Rhys McKee. It’s worth noting that ‘Borz’ fought at middleweight 10 prior and had to cut 15lbs for his bout with McKee to be made official. The fight played out in typical Chimaev fashion, sheer dominance. After beating the Irishman via TKO, fans were quick to keep close tabs on his rise.
A 17 second KO win over Gerald Meerschaert in Las Vegas followed, before he was handed a tougher test in Li Jingliang. Needless to say it wasn’t as tough as MMA fans thought it’d be. Despite submitting the Chinese star in under four minutes, many will remember ‘Borz’ picking him up, screaming at White while doing so and eventually slamming him to the canvas before finishing the fight with ease.
Following his win over Jingliang, Chimaev was handed one of the toughest opponents in the welterweight division in Gilbert Burns. Against the Brazilian, the undefeated showed real adversity. While ‘Borz’ took the first five minutes, Burns came back in some style in the second to level the fight.
Eventually going on to edge the contest, it was arguably the closest fight the Chechen has had in his career. The fight showed that his mentality is through the roof after really having to dig deep in the final round. There were a few questions marks next to his name after the clash, but it’s fair to say he put all those doubts to bed in his next fight.
Despite missing weight by eight pounds for his clash with Kevin Holland, Chimaev absolutely steamrolled through ‘Trailblazer,’ securing an impressive first round submission to extend his undefeated record to 12-0.
Chimaev has dominated every fighter he has faced inside the UFC Octagon so far
His relentless pressure in the grappling department has proven too much for his opponents
Bar Burns, many would argue that he hasn’t really been tested inside the cage. However, he faced a real step up in competition in last weekend’s fight with Usman.
To put it into context, prior to his fight with Chimaev, Usman had only been taken down once in his UFC career… ‘Borz’ secured four during their clash at UFC 294. The way he dominated two of the three rounds against ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ was breathtaking.
His versatility is a scary sight for potential future opponents. He often uses his freestyle wrestling in his fights in order to get the bout to the floor – where he can then tee off on them.
Once he is on top, he is always chasing a submission or a ground-and-pound, while forcing his weight towards them and is relentless in his pressure. You could argue that his grappling is similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov, yet ‘Borz’ is actually securing finishes.
Despite his striking being very much untested, Chimaev does possess knockout power from the orthodox stance. He tends to use his wrestling to set up combinations by feinting takedowns.
As alluded to, despite his striking being slightly unknown, six of his 13 wins have come by way of knock out.
‘Borz’ shocked fans by securing four takedowns against Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi
A LOOK AT HIS WILD AND CRAZY PERSONALITY
There is no denying how big of a star Chimaev is in the Octagon, but his wild personality outside of the cage could be a cause for concern.
Three years ago, Chimaev travelled to Ireland to ‘beat up’ McGregor only to be detained by police.
‘First, they stopped me a while, and then slightly they told me to go. Then I was going out,’ said the undefeated star.
‘When I was going out from the airport, they stopped me again. That time, there were guys literally in uniform. … Yes, there were (special forces), and they told me, ‘You cannot go anywhere.”
In the build-up to his fight with Holland, ‘Borz’ was involved in a backstage brawl ahead of UFC 279 which caused the pre-fight press conference to be cancelled in an unprecedented step.
Chimaev clashed with Holland and Nick and Nate Diaz ahead of his bout with Nate Diaz on Saturday.
A fight erupted between Chimaev and the Diaz brothers, along with several other fighters and their respective camps.
He posted on his Instagram story in relation to the fight: ‘I told them: Don’t joke with us. Kevin got what he deserved. Diaz got what he deserved.’
Khamzat Chimaev claims he flew to Ireland to beat up Conor McGregor but was turned home
Chimaev was angered by comments made by McGregor about Khabib Nurmagomedov
On the microphone, he tends to hold nothing back either. Speaking after his win over Jingliang, he said: ‘I said to Dana, ‘I am the king here. I am here for a long time and I am going to kill everybody’ I wanted to talk to Dana White. I come here for everybody, I am the champ, I am the king here.’
While he’s repeated on several occasions that he intends to ‘kill everybody’ in the sport, there have been a few examples which show a softer side to his personality.
Many will associate Chimaev as being an aggressive individual with a short temper, however, one former UFC star may have something to say about that.
Over the last year, the Chechen has become very close with former UFC star Darren Till. The Englishman revealed that the Russian-born fighter reached out to him following his loss to Derek Brunson.
‘After the fight, I’d seen that Khamzat had tweeted me and congratulated Derek and was like, ‘Till, do you want to come out here and train with me, brother? The doors are open,’ he told ESPN.
‘And we spoke a lot on DM’s. Obviously, everyone’s seen our Instagram live where we were talking about fighting. I just got the feeling that he was the type of guy who — there was no bulls**t after what you say. He was just a guy who trains hard, was a little bit crazy, and stuff like that.’
Till then asked Chimaev to train with him in Sweden, with the Brit being welcome with open arms.
Since then, the pair have gone on to become one of the most iconic friendships in MMA. They have formed a formidable bond and earned the nickname ‘Smesh Bros.’
Chimaev has formed a formidable friendship with former UFC star Darren Till over the last year
Following his win over Usman on Saturday night, Chimaev gave an inspirational speech, delivering a powerful message about the ongoing suffering in Gaza and the importance of unity and peace in the world.
‘Guys you know what’s happening in the world right now. I wasn’t happy (being) in the cage fight this week, and seeing kids dying. Doesn’t matter where ever in the world: Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, USA. Doesn’t matter,’ said the undefeated star.
‘When kids die it’s hard guys. I love the kids. I have a boy waiting for me there back home he’s only three months. If he’s just crying I don’t know how to feel.
‘When somebody dies, guys I don’t know what to say. Inshallah would be good in the world I hope so. Christian, Muslim, Jew doesn’t matter. Please guys, be together. Let us live in this world. Let us be happy.’
‘Borz’ went viral for his ‘inspirational’ post-fight speech on Saturday regarding the ongoing suffering in Gaza
HOW DOES HIS RISE COMPARE TO JON JONES AND CONOR MCGREGOR?
When you look at his rise to the top, it is very similar to that of Jon Jones and Conor McGregor.
The Irishman’s win over Diego Brandao in his home country proved to put his name on the map.
From then on in, the Irishman became a household name and put the sport of MMA on the map. Not only was he talking the talk before most fights, but he would also walk the walk as well.
Like McGregor, Jones became a big star fairly early on his UFC career. The win over Ryan Bader was the win that truly put his name on the map.
In 2011, ‘Bones’ defeated Maurício Rua at UFC 128 to win the light-heavyweight title – a month after beating Bader.
You can see why fans are comparing Chimaev’s rise to that of Jon Jones – with both fighters being well-known for dominating their opponents
Since then, his stock grew every time he stepped foot inside the UFC Octagon. He would go on to beat the likes of Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier before being stripped of his title.
Jones’ wins would come in dominant fashion and no one, bar Gustafsson, came close to touching his title.
It’s very easy to see a new kid off the block come in and immediately be compared with the likes of McGregor and Jones, but Chimaev is the real deal. Like those two MMA stars, Chimaev is backing all of the talk beforehand with dominant performances inside the cage.
With Chimaev now beating several top contenders with ease, it is fair to compare his meteoric rise with the likes of McGregor and Jones.
Chimaev has also proven to be an excellent trash-talker on the microphone, very similar to McGregor
WHAT DOES HE NEED TO DO TO BECOME THE ‘GOAT?’
Nowadays, to be considered as one of the best of all time in the UFC, you have to become a champion in multiple weight classes. A year after winning the featherweight title, McGregor moved up to 155 and dethroned Eddie Alvarez to become the first two division simultaneous champion.
As for Jones, the heavyweight kind dominated 205 for nearly a decade before opting to move up to 265.
He is scheduled to fight former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 on November 12 in New York. A win over Miocic will truly cement as the best to ever do it in MMA.
While Chimaev has struggled to make 170 on a few occasions, with the right nutritionist and preparation, he could make welterweight. ‘Borz’ has always been verbal about wanting to become a two division champion in his career.
Chimaev still needs a lot more work to do in order to be considered as one of the greats
Should ‘Borz’ beat Strickland, there are plenty of match-ups at 185 – including Israel Adesanya
Chimaev could even move back down to 170 and take on current king Leon Edwards (left)
First though, he will look to win the middleweight title and is next in line to fight Sean Strickland. Should he beat the current 185 champion, there are plenty of entertaining fights that could be made.
The likes of Israel Adesanya, Dricus du Plessis and Robert Whittaker immediately spring to mind.
At 170, he is not short of options either. Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Shavkat Rakhmonov will all prove to be a stern test for the undefeated star.
At 29, the sky is the limit for Chimaev. The clash with Usman showed just how good he really is and that is potential is frightening. Should he claim the middleweight title and defend it in dominant style for years to come, and even pick up another belt in at either welterweight or at light-heavyweight, it could be enough to surpass Jones as the greatest of all time. However, there is still a long way to go, but he is only just getting started.
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