Before he finished the fight, Chimaev actually lifted Li into the air for a takedown but rather than just bring him crashing back down to the canvas, the Dagestani born fighter actually carried him over to the side of the cage where UFC president Dana White was seated.
As he was punishing Li with punches and working towards the rear-naked choke that ended the fight, Chimaev was actually shouting at White. After the event ended, White revealed what Chimaev was saying to him ahead of his first-round submission win over Li.
“He was yelling crazy sh*t at me the whole fight,” White said at the UFC 267 post-fight press conference. “I don’t know why but basically just saying ‘I’m going to fight everybody, I’ll fight Brock Lesnar, I don’t care who it is.’ He was just yelling stuff like that.”
When Chimaev first burst on the scene last year, he was immediately embraced by the UFC and the fans after he fought and won twice inside of 10 days before demolishing Gerald Meerschaert by knockout in just 17 seconds in his third fight with the promotion.
Right away, the UFC attempted to seize on his momentum by booking Chimaev in a main event showdown against top-five ranked welterweight Leon Edwards.
Sadly despite several attempts to make the fight happen, COVID-19 struck both athletes with Chimaev getting the worst of it as the deadly disease actually had him contemplating retirement.
Finally healthy again, Chimaev sought to re-introduce himself to the UFC audience with his performance at UFC 267 and it certainly appears he accomplished that mission.
“Listen, last time we were here, we knew this guy was special,” White said about Chimaev. “This COVID thing is one of the weirdest things any of us have ever seen. You get some people that fit the profile to be high risk and it doesn’t even feel like a bad cold to them and then a guy who’s in phenomenal shape like this guy, gets hit as hard as he did by COVID. But he’s back and he’s no doubt this kid’s special.”
With this win, Chimaev has now once again positioned himself for a meaningful fight as he seeks to eventually get into title contention and become UFC champion.
The problem with that plan is Chimaev wants to compete as often as possible, which means it might be tough to hold him back while waiting for top ranked opponents become available.
White can’t say for certain what will come next for Chimaev but considering the UFC president said he received 10 times as much traffic online as any other fighter competing on Saturday, he will probably have quite a few options.
“It’s tough once you start to break into the top 10, which he will do on Tuesday,” White said about potential matchups for Chimaev. “Yeah, if he wants to stay busy — I’m a big believer in that anyway, especially with the huge layoff he’s had. I don’t know. We would figure it out if that’s what he really wanted to do.
“I’m sure the guy does want to fight. We’ll get home and figure out what’s next for him.”