Khamzat Chimaev believes he is getting unfairly scrutinized for his level of competition in the UFC thus far.
Chimaev is arguably the most exciting prospect in MMA today. Debuting in 2020, Chimaev ran through John Phillips, Rhys McKee, and Gerald Meerschaert in the span of two months and claiming MMA Fighting’s Breakout Fighter of the Year honors. After being sidelined by COVID for much of 2021, Chimaev returned to action last October where he was once again dominant, submitting Jingliang Li inside the first round.
With all 10 of his career wins coming by stoppage, and with Chimaev having absorbed only one significant strike in the UFC so far, the 27-year old Swedish fighter is believed by many to be a future champion. However, Chimaev’s rapid rise to stardom has also led some to question the level of opposition he has faced. It’s an unfair critique, Chimaev says, given that other notable names like Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov didn’t face the same criticism, and he has been even more dominant than they were.
“Who (went) in the cage: 10 fights, 10 finishes?” Chimaev said on a BlockAsset “Smesh Bros” video (h/t The Mac Life). “The guys tell like, ‘Oh, he didn’t fight this guy, he didn’t fight that guy,’ but the guys who’s the best guys – Jon Jones, his first four fights in UFC, he get the punch. I didn’t get the punch. We don’t say, his first fights, he didn’t get the best ones – the guys, you know, like, super good guys. Nobody. Conor (McGregor) didn’t get that, crazy good guys in his first fights. Nobody. Khabib (Nurmagomedov) didn’t get crazy good guys. I just need the time.”
Chimaev will get his chance to silence the doubters next month when he faces fourth-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns in a featured welterweight fight at UFC 273. Should he win, Chimaev’s next fight would likely be for the welterweight title.