Khamzat Chimaev burst onto the UFC scene only weeks ago, and already has 2 fights and 2 wins. A lot has been made of his 2 opponents, however, I think they’re being hard done-by. Whilst by no means a finished product, Chimaev has undeniable similarities to Khabib. With more of a willingness to fight frequently.
Grappling is the main aspect that Chimaev has developed. And it’s the frightening pace and pressure he puts on his opponents that is so impressive. In the 2 fights he’s had, he’s absorbed a whole 2 strikes, compared to his 192 given out. That’s a record of 192-2 strikes in his past 2 fights. Absurd.
It’s not just the pressure he puts on once he’s got the opponent to the mat. It’s the fight IQ and savvy required to ground opponents so effectively.
Against John Phillips, he seemed to take Phillips down, and drag him to his corner. Against Rhys Mckee, he literally picked him up and carried him to his corner.
This, whilst impressive, got even more impressive when the Chechen’s chain wrestling came out. After defending the first takedown, McKee thinks he can take a breather, whilst Chimaev continued working for the foot-trip and body-lock to drag the Northern Irishman to the mat.
Once on the mat, you see the Sambo-style wrestling on full display. From hooking the legs, to the Dagestani handcuff. Something used by wrestlers in all nations, it’s the Russian fighters that have used it most effectively. Whilst holding the wrist. It opens up a whole side of the face to be vulnerable to strikes or choke attempts.
We’re not sure about the striking of Chimaev, however, training from Allstars in Stockholm, Sweden, he should be competent at the very least. With all of his fights being stopped on the ground, besides one, the only footage of a striking Chimaev we have, is a brutal one-punch KO uppercut.
Where Does He Go From Here?
For Chimaev, the right option would be a non-ranked, decent striker and decent grappler. Someone like Gunnar Nelson, Alan Joubian, or my personal favourite pick, Marvin Vettori. A solid wrestler with good BJJ, and good striking fundamentals, Vettori should, in my opinion, be the next logical step for Chimaev. Any talk of a ranked opponent just now is absurd, unless it’s last-minute notice. He’s 2 fights in, the last thing the UFC need is another potential superstar derailed by too big of a push too soon.
I expect Khamzat Chimaev to be a ranked contender by the end of the year, if he can get another 2 or 3 fights in quickly. I’m all aboard the hype, and think with the right path to the top, he could end up being one of the most dominant champions ever. He could also end up having a career like John Fitch. One thing to know for sure though, is he has more than enough hype to make the jump to superstardom in the very near future.
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!