Khamzat Chimaev has absorbed only ONE significant strike in four UFC outings and makes elite fighters look amateurish…but will the Chechen-born phenom pass his toughest test so far against Gilbert Burns?
- There are two title fights at UFC 273 but another contest is generating interest
- Khamzat Chimaev has captured the attention of fans like few fighters before him
- His dominance has been absolute and 27-year-old has only absorbed one strike
- However, Gilbert Burns should provide him with a massive test this weekend
Up to this point, the so-called ‘tests’ presented to Khamzat Chimaev in the UFC have been dealt with in the same way Stephen Hawking might have handled a GCSE science paper.
It has been embarrassingly easy for the prospect Dana White labelled ‘the best he’s ever seen’ but the Chechen-born phenomenon will finally face one of his division’s killers this weekend.
Gilbert Burns, a well-rounded former title contender, should expose the true ability of Chimaev either way. Is the hype deserved? Can the new kid on the block ragdoll a man with so much skill and experience?
Khamzat Chimaev has looked incredible during all four wins in the UFC so far
Gilbert Burns takes on the Chechen-born star on the main card of UFC 273 this weekend
Chimaev continued his rapid rise with a first round submission of Li Jingliang
There’s a reason this three-rounder is generating arguably more excitement than either title fight in the main and co-main events. Fans are desperate to know the answer to these questions.
The official UFC stats for Chimaev’s fights in the organisation almost look made up.
It is unfathomable at this elite level of competition, that in four UFC fights, Chimaev has taken just one blow.
He has landed 112 significant strikes of his own and performed for 12 minutes and 56 seconds in total, with a cumulative control time of 11 minutes 56 seconds.
Two wins have come by submission and two by TKO.
In his first fight with John Phillips, he averaged a punch or kick every 2.5 seconds. Just 10 days later he set the record for the shortest turnaround between wins with a first round finish of Rhys McKee.
For his next trick, Chimaev dismissed Gerald Meerschaert in just 17 seconds, the third fastest middleweight KO of all time.
There were just 66 days between Chimaev’s UFC debut and him sitting on three wins. That’s how you make a statement.
And then the train came off the tracks. Covid struck Chimaev down in a horrendous way, ravaging his lungs and leaving him coughing up blood.
He was rushed to hospital after collapsing during a training session and genuinely feared his career was over before it had really begun.
But gradually ‘Borz’, who trains in Sweden, embarked on the comeback trail, capped off with his last fight against Li Jingliang.
The Chinese fighter was ranked No 11 at the time and is certainly no pushover, even though Chimaev made him look like one.
Chimaev immediately went for the takedown as the action commenced and, while holding Jingliang in mid-air, spoke to White who was sat Octagon-side in remarkable scenes reminiscent of Khabib Nurmagomedov talking to the UFC chief during his win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205.
Chimaev dominated Jack Hermansson (right) in a freestyle wrestling match
‘I said to Dana “I am the king here. I am here for a long time and I am going to kill everybody”. He went to sleep bro!’ Chimaev told Daniel Cormier after the fight.
‘I couldn’t take him down that early and I wanted to talk to Dana White. I come here for everybody, I am the champ, I am the king here!’
That Chimaev’s ruthless efficiency inside the octagon was matched by a menacing, softly spoken confidence outside it, only added to the mystique.
Over the last few months, fighters have admitted to being aware of a force of nature coming out of Sweden even before he arrived in the UFC.
But as the balloon of Chimaev’s legend grows, Burns is out to pop it this Saturday night.
When all but a handful swerved a fight with Chimaev, the Brazilian accepted, knowing that a win over Chimaev would be a major addition to his CV and elevate him back into title contention.
Dana White described Khamzat Chimaev as the best prospect he has ever seen
He had previously beaten John Phillips and Rhys McKee (bottom) in 10 days before easing past Meerschaert to land a three-fight winning streak in an astonishing 66 days, a UFC record
UFC commentator and former two-weight champion Daniel Cormier believes the No 2-ranked contender should push his highly-rated opponent.
He said: ‘I think he’s going to get challenged in ways we haven’t seen him get challenged to date. I think he’s going to get challenged. But do I think he’s going to win?
‘I think the size difference is going to be the biggest issue for Burns to overcome in this match-up. So I will say that I think Khamzat wins the fight. But I don’t know if he wins the fight in as dominant a fashion as he’s won so many.
‘If this dude goes through Burns in the way he did Li Jingliang, everybody has a problem. Everybody. I’m not just talking about dudes at the bottom of the top ten. I’m not talking about dudes that are just good at fighting and ranked.
‘I’m talking about every single person in the welterweight division has a real problem if Khamzat shows that he can do to Gilbert Burns what he did to everyone else he has fought to this point in the UFC.’
Burns’ only defeat in his last eight fights was against Kamaru Usman, the pound-for-pound No 1 and welterweight champion.
Chimaev has been earmarked as a future champion and says he is willing to fight anybody
But in terms of significant strikes absorbed per minute, he averages 2.90, meaning there will be openings for Chimaev to find a home for his shots.
His takedown defence is only 50 per cent too, so if Chimaev chooses to take the fight to the mat, there’s a fair chance he’ll be able to.
The bookmakers are giving out quite astonishing odds on this one, giving Chimaev an 83 per cent probability of winning.
The money men aren’t often wrong, the incredible Chimaev stats don’t lie and the testimonies of his training partners are too numerous to be inaccurate.
Chimaev is the real deal and this fight with Gilbert Burns will give an indication of just how special he could be.
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