Khamzat Chimaev believes he is two fights away from challenging for the UFC welterweight title.
Since debuting in the UFC in 2020, Chimaev has gone a perfect 4-0, winning a Performance of the Night bonus in each of his outings. Even more impressively, in his four octagon appearances, Chimaev’s opponents have collectively landed just one significant strike on the outspoken fighter. It’s a level of dominance that has propelled Chimaev up the welterweight division, where he is currently the No. 10 ranked fighter in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings. Now, all signs point to Chimaev taking on former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns next — a fight Chimaev is very confident he will win.
“All those numbers mean nothing,” Chimaev told RT Sport. “To be honest, I don’t see a real challenge in him. We’ll see. Everything may happen in a fight, but I am confident as usual. I think I will just smash him with my skills and power. I feel that way. He might feel different, but I will go there and do what I did the last time.”
The last time Chimaev competed, he mauled welterweight contender Li Jingliang, putting “The Leech” to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the first round. And should Chimaev be able to make good on his prediction against Burns, “Borz” believes that fight will be a stepping stone to a No. 1 contender’s match, or possibly even an interim title fight against the winner of UFC 272’s main event between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
“I think they will give us a great fight. Masvidal is a slight favorite for me, but Colby is also a tough guy. He fights well. We’ll see,” Chimaev said. “I think it’s 50/50. I don’t care which of them wins. I am fighting Burns now, then after beating Burns, hopefully I will fight the winner of Masvidal-Covington, because it seems like Usman has a hand injury and needs time to recover. I hope he will recover soon. I am waiting for this guy, too. Looking forward to fighting him.
“But for now I think the winner of our fight with Gilbert will fight the winner of Masvidal-Covington for the interim title or just the No. 1 contender spot. Then Usman should come back and we will fight him. This looks like a good plan to me.”
Usman is currently sidelined after undergoing hand surgery recently and is not expected to return until the summer. When Usman does return, Leon Edwards is expected to get the next shot at the welterweight title.
Of course, all of Chimaev’s plans are contingent on the UFC getting the fight booked against Burns, and though the two have been going back and forth on social media, an official bout agreement has yet to be signed. But Chimaev isn’t all that concerned by the delay. The Swedish fighter says he is currently working on having his U.S. visa renewed and that if Burns ultimately won’t sign him, he’s happy to take on anyone on his path to the title.
“I have no problem if the other guy doesn’t sign the contract,” Chimaev said. “That’s it. Anyway, I don’t care. If Burns doesn’t sign it, anyone from the top 10 [works]. I just need to fight, get my money, and move forward. If I kill everybody one by one, they won’t get away from me.”