In a weight class that features Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and Gilbert Burns, what if I told you the best fighter in the welterweight division is currently ranked 11th?
Enter Khamzat Chimaev, a 10-0 fighter, including 4-0 in the UFC. He is yet to play any top competition yet, but he has already put the UFC on notice. In interviews, Dana White has admitted nobody in the welterweight division wants to fight Chimaev. MMA legend Henry Cejudo recently came out and said that Khamzat could move up a weight class and take down Israel Adesanya. So who is this guy? And will he be the one to take the belt away from Kamaru Usman?
Khazamat Chimaev, while born in Russia, fights out of Sweden where he has trained for years. Currently, he belongs to Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand, which is widely regarded as the best Muay Thai gym in the entire world.
He is known for his unreal work ethic wherever he trains, and has drawn the attention of other former UFC champions. Teammate Alexander Gustaffson called Chimaev “the hardest worker he has ever been with”, and despite Gustaffson’s weight advantage, claims he is unable to wrestle the welterweight at all.
Chimaev began to draw attention through his wrestling skills at a very young age, and eventually would earn a UFC contract after going 6-0 in a variety of fighting leagues.
In his first four UFC fights, Khamzat Chimaev has completely dominated the competition. He has outstruck his opponents 112-1, and only one fight has reached the second round.
His most dominant bout came against Meerschaert, back in September 2020. The fight would last all of seventeen seconds, as Meerschaert would get knocked out by Chimaev’s first right hook. This put the UFC world on notice, as someone who is supposed to primarily be a wrestler exhibited rare knockout power.
He has only had one fight since then, squaring up against the previous eleventh ranked fighter in the division, Li Jingliang. Chimaev would once again finish the fight in the first round, and would dominate Jingliang so much he carried the Chinese fighter to Dana White’s corner and demanded a tougher opponent mid fight.
Khamzat Chimaev is filled with confidence he can dismantle any fighter he squares up against. With his track record, it is tough to blame the guy.
No way around it, Chimaev must fight a top welterweight in his next bout. He has proven he can destroy any lower ranked fighter, and currently stands at eleventh in the rankings, taking Jingliang’s spot.
While many have speculated he would go against Belal Muhammed or Leon Edwards, the fight that most makes sense is Brazilian Gilbert Burns. Burns is the second ranked fighter in the welterweight class, only behind first ranked Colby Covington and champion Kamaru Usman.
Burns has accumulated wins through knockout and submission, being one of the more well-rounded fighters in the entire division. However, I believe he would stand no match for Khamzat.
When, not if, Chimaev gets his title shot against Kamaru Usman, it will be one of the craziest fights in the weight class. Both have shown no weakness in the octagon, and each is known for putting on a show.
While Usman may have a case for best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, I will still pick Chimaev to win. He is the terminator, and in his own words, he will smash anyone in his path.
Khamzat Chimaev will be the UFC welterweight champion by mid-2023.