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Morning Report: Alexander Gustafsson believes Khamzat Chimaev has potential to be an all-time great: ‘That’s the level of potential’

UFC 267 Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

2022 figures to be a big year for Khamzat Chimaev. The Swedish fighter enters the year as the 10th-ranked welterweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings with many fans believing that Chimaev is soon to claim the title of UFC welterweight champion from Kamaru Usman, and former three-time UFC title challenger Alexander Gustafsson is among them.

“I think he’d put Kamaru Usman to sleep honestly,” Gustafsson told ESPN. “I think if he just touches his chin, it’s a big chance that Kamaru Usman goes to sleep. I like Kamaru Usman, he’s a great champ, and he’s just been breaking records and it’s a pleasure to see him fight because he’s very good, technical, I love his jab and his wrestling and you can see that he’s on top, Kamaru Usman, but I just can’t see him take Khamzat’s punches...

“His striking is very - he’s hits like a light heavyweight. He hits hard. He’s very explosive. He boxes very fast with his hands and with speed comes power and good precision. If you don’t keep your head, I’ve seen this guy knock people out with just a jab in training.”

Gustafsson and Chimaev are teammates at Allstars Training in Stockholm, and despite the weight difference - Gustafsson competes at light heavyweight and heavyweight while Chimaev competes at welterweight and middleweight - the two have become frequent training partners with one another. And given what he has seen from “Borz” in the training room and felt while sparring against him, Gustafsson believes that winning the welterweight title is only the beginning for Chimaev.

“(Khabib Nurmagomedov, Georges St-Pierre), that’s the level of potential, 100 percent,” Gustafsson said. “If he does all the things, if he does it right from the start, if he just keeps doing what he’s doing now, he will be one of those guys one day. I’m 100 percent sure of that....

“I met a lot of MMA athletes and fighters and all that, and he stands out for sure, because of his dedication, because of how he out-trains everybody. There’s nobody that trains like him, nobody. I haven’t seen it and I have been around the world, seen fighters train and having their camps and training for a fight. This guy just doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t feel any pain, he just goes through it.”

It’s certainly high praise but thus far, Chimaev has proven himself equal to it. Only four years into his MMA career, Chimaev has looked unstoppable, securing 10 victories, all by stoppage. In his four fights in the UFC, Chimaev has absorbed just a single significant strike, and his penchant for trash talk and his desire to fight everyone, every weekend has endeared him to fans and to UFC President Dana White. And while UFC history is littered with the failed careers of Once Upon A Time prospects who fell short of the massive expectations thrust upon them, Gustafsson doesn’t believe Chimaev will be one of those cautionary tales.

“It comes with a lot of pressure,” Gustafsson said. “It comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s not an easy task to make everyone happy, all the fans, everyone just wants to see him do his things. It comes with a lot of pressure and if you can’t handle it, it can make you fold. But this guy Khamzat, it’s like he doesn’t take it too personal or he just doesn’t understand what it is, he just keeps going with a smile.... This guy has too much focus, too much tunnel vision to do anything else than just train, train his ass off, everyday.”

Chimaev is currently awaiting his next opponent though it has recently been rumored that the UFC is looking to book Chimaev against former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns.


TOP STORIES

Out. Injury forces Max Holloway out of UFC 272 title fight with Alexander Volkanovski.

Boxing. Jake Paul says Tommy Fury ‘doesn’t deserve’ fight, eyeing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. instead.

Defend. Charles Oliveira open to fights with fellow UFC champions Alexander Volkanovski, Kamaru Usman.

145. Holly Holm casts doubt on viability of featherweight division long term, comments on Kayla Harrison possibly joining UFC.

Beef. Sean O’Malley says Cody Garbrandt fight ‘not happening,’ questions if callout due to ‘CTE’.


VIDEO STEW

Fight Preview.

Top UFC Finishes of 2021.

2021 PFL RefCam highlights.

Francis Ngannou Fight Camp, Episode 3.

Kamaru Usman in Nigeria, continued.


LISTEN UP

On to the Next One. Making predictions for MMA in 2022.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

This guy.

Book it.

Feud.

Jeez.

Up-to-date.

MMA in a nutshell.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Weber Almeida (5-1) vs. Josh Wright (6-3); Bellator 273, Jan. 29.

Derrick Lewis (26-8, 1 NC) vs. Tai Tuivasa (14-3); UFC 271, Feb. 12.

Rafael dos Anjos (30-13) vs. Rafael Fiziev (11-1); UFC Vegas 48, Feb. 19.

Jim Miller (33-16) vs. Nikolas Motta (12-3); UFC Vegas 48, Feb. 19.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading everyone. I’ll be out tomorrow but one of my fine compatriots here is going to pick up the slack. See y’all Wednesday.


EXIT POLL

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