Israel Adesanya acknowledges Khamzat Chimaev’s skills, but doesn’t see him as a threat just yet.

That’s because Chimaev has dabbled in both welterweight and middleweight since joining the UFC roster, but currently is on the rise at 170 pounds as he gears up for a rumored bout against former title challenger Gilbert Burns.

After Adesanya (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) retained his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker at UFC 271, Chimaev chimed in, claiming the champion would be easy work for him. While Chimaev is definitely on his radar, “The Last Stylebender” says he still has some work to do before he considers him a contender.

“I don’t have to take him seriously till I have to take him seriously,” Adesanya said on the “True Geordie Podcast.” “And that’s a guy that definitely, I’d like to fight – if he does what he says he wants to do – because guess what? He will bring in a lot of eyes.”

Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is coming off a quick submission win over Li Jingliang at UFC 267 this past October, which impressed Adesanya. But it wasn’t at middleweight.

“He’s on his way, but show me something first,” Adesanya said. “His last fight made me take notice. That was one where I was like, ‘Ooh.’ I know how Jingliang is – he’s good. … There was something he did in that fight – I won’t give it away, but I was like, ‘Hmm, I like that.’ I was really impressed with (what he did).

“So that’s what made me take notice of him properly. But at the moment, still, it’s just barking in the wind because who’s he fought at 185? Look, he can beat a lot of these guys at 185, a lot of the top guys, from what I’ve heard. But let me see it first and then we’ll start talking before all this hype around him.”


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