Everyone starts off undefeated. Any fighter that reaches a certain level has a belief in themselves that separates them from others. Many fighters have come and gone that talk the talk, and time again we have seen only a select few who can walk the walk. Khamzat Chimaev appears to be one of those. The 25-year history of UFC is littered with hype trains that got derailed.
The 26-year-old Swede hasn't even touched his "prime years" yet and out of an impressive roster, he might be the most dangerous talent that is represented by Ali Abdelaziz. Yes, Khamzat Chimaev is only 9-0, but what sets him apart is some special attributes.
No one knows if he'll ever turn into the headline making type of fighter but actually, he doesn't need it. For him, the silent assassin act has worked wonders so far. So as the say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Yes, he's mentioned some names, but only really after being asked about them.
He's now shying away from any comparisons to his Dominance MMA teammate, Khabib Nurmagomedov. His skill set does have a lot of resemblance to that of The Eagle, except the fact that he has more firepower in his hands than the current Lightweight Champion. His power is something to feast your eyes upon and it's the speed and precision that he hits a target which is more impressive.
The fact that Khamzat Chimaev can bounce between Welterweight and Middleweight without blinking an eye, is impressive especially in this day of botched weight cuts. However, with time, this will become a lot harder and he will have to choose where he feels the best at.
Starting 3-0 as an amateur with three finishes set the pace for him. Going 6-0 with in similar style taught him how to win as a pro.
Although he's just three fights into his UFC career, the pattern has not changed.
However, with all the positives flying at him, there are some pitfalls as well. Usually, when someone is this special, as Dana White calls him, it's hard to not push the fighter before he is ready. Khamzat Chimaev's three UFC fights have come in 66 days. Dana White has admitted that if they were to give him a top 5 opponent, they'd have to allow him a full training camp which is fair and logical.
But between speed and power, where does Khamzat Chimaev fit best?
It has to be at Middleweight. It's where Khamzat Chimaev's spent the far majority of his short career. Plus it's 15 fewer pounds to cut.
But first, he has a soon to be announced date with Demian Maia at 170 and the result in that fight will be the barometer of where he goes next.
Ideally, he should face one more unranked fighter at 185. Say either an Oskar Piechota, a Zak Cummings, or even Eryk Anders. Those three would test him in stand up and on the mat. Then Khamzat Chimaev should get someone ranked between 13-15.
But if he takes out easily the 7th ranked Welterweight and future Hall Of Famer, he goes onto a very different trajectory. But it's a tight rope with no safety net. He'd be a bad matchup for Stephen Thompson and Tyron Woodley isn't the same anymore.
With the very top of the division tied up, it might be the answer to a question that's been asked for a while now. Who will be Leon Edwards' next opponent?
Khamzat Chimaev is not a fighter that will say no and you can expect the same answer from Edwards as well.
Since UFC has already broken its own rule of booking two fights for a fighter with him, why not do it again?
Either way, Khamzat Chimaev is a threat to everyone in two divisions. Is he a threat to either champion (as of now), Kamaru Usman or Israel Adesanya? At the moment, no would be the answer.
Both of those guys and the top 3 at 170 and 185 are on a different league altogether. But Khamzat Chimaev would certainly rattle all of their cages.Published 21 Sep 2020, 08:59 IST