Little by little, Khamzat Chimaev is becoming one of the UFC's top stars.
Chimaev is a unique character, visually striking: thick beard, harelip, bald, and tall in stature, with a comical yet scary smile. As you listen to him with his thick voice and Russian accent, he gives the feeling that he can take down anyone, anywhere, like some kind of monster.
The Chechnya-born fighter has become a favorite among MMA fans worldwide.
He can fight, and very well
Since his arrival in the UFC in 2020, Chimaev has dominated at welterweight and middleweight. In his first four octagon appearances, he ran roughshod over his opponents, showing no mercy. You have to be pretty badass to carry a ranked fighter like Li Jingliang across the octagon, to leave him there in front of Dana White, beating him up while talking to the president of the UFC.
Vicious power, incredible submission skills, and a dominating ground game. Chimaev can do it all in the octagon and people are noticing it.
Much was said that Chimaev would not be able to take on a top-ranked fighter, and once again, he proved everyone wrong.
Chimaev faced the #2 ranked fighter in the world, Gilbert Burns, one of the best and most complete fighters in the world. Although he was unable to finish him, Chimaev won the fight by unanimous decision, being dominant on the feet and on the ground.
The Russian fighter has an undefeated record of 11-0, with six knockouts and four submissions. Only Gilbert Burns was able to reach a decision with this monster.
Chimaev is trendy
The McGregor, Diaz, and Masvidal generation is nearing its end and the UFC desperately needs a new face that can sell tickets and PPVs. Somehow, Chimaev has connected with the people and is the most attractive fighter for the future of the company.
We saw it at UFC 273, an event with two championship fights. It mattered little to the crowd that two belts were on the line; everyone wanted to see Chimaev, and the arena lit up with his entrance into the octagon.
Any action by Chimaev that can be captured by a camera instantly goes viral on social networks. The expression "smesh" is repeated by everyone, and there is great attention paid to everything that happens with the Russian fighter.
The fight with Nate Diaz has a marketing move. Pitting the company's future star against one of today's top sellers is going to ensure good PPV sales, and with a win, Chimaev could further solidify himself as a UFC superstar.
All set to become champion
Stylistically, the fight against Kamaru Usman did not suit Chimaev. Yes, Khamzat is a good grappler, but Usman has been imposing in the octagon throughout his reign as champion.
In a bout where the champion was clearly winning on the scorecards, Leon Edwards dethroned Usman with a minute to go. It will be more comfortable for Chimaev to fight Edwards, a natural striker, and with a win over Diaz, we will most likely see him go for the belt.
If Chimaev becomes a welterweight champion, he could then move up to middleweight, a division in need of excitement.
Israel Adesanya must beat Alex Pereira in November to have dispatched every fighter currently in the division's top five. A fresh face like Chimaev would help spice up the middleweight division.