A mostly cordial meeting between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns at the UFC 273 host hotel on Wednesday gave way to a heated showdown between the welterweights at the pre-fight press conference on Thursday.
There was no real animosity during the chance encounter as they started their weight cut, but those niceties went out the window as they sat opposite each other on stage. Chimaev promised to deliver a brutal beatdown to the one-time UFC title challenger.
“I’m going to smash that guy, knock him out in one minute [or] less,” Chimaev said. “I promise you. He’s too little, boy. He’s a scared boy.
“I said to him yesterday show his power. He couldn’t show that. He said I’ll show you Saturday and he turned around. I was there. You’re too little brother. You have to go to other divisions.”
Burns was all smiles in response as he answered Chimaev’s challenge.
“I’ll show you Saturday,” Burns said. “Keep that energy. I’ll do it.”
Chimaev, who at the start of the press conference wasn’t listening to the questions as much as he was playing a game on his phone, continued to issue emphatic predictions about his fight with Burns while also taking shots at his heritage as well.
“I’m gonna kill that guy,” Chimaev said. “I have power in my hands. I don’t care what I’m going to do. I’m going to jump in the cage and smash that guy. I don’t care. He will be down [on the ground], I will smash his face. If it will be standup, I will knock him out. I don’t care.
“That guy’s not f***** from Brazil. I am more in Brazil than him. He is not Brazilian. He speaks English, he cannot speak Portuguese.”
Burns wasn’t baited into a fiery exchange because he claimed he couldn’t even comprehend what Chimaev was actually saying.
“I can’t understand,” Burns said. “Where’s the translator?”
The back-and-forth continued until the odds for the fight were brought up as Burns is sitting as a heavy underdog to Chimaev despite a much deeper resume than his undefeated opponent.
Before Burns could even answer, Chimaev shouted back at him before slamming the microphone and then his fist down on the table, which echoed throughout the arena.
“Of course he’s underdog!” Chimaev said. “The king is here! I can see you every minute. Come on backstage, I smash your face.”
Burns laughed while watching Chimaev get so heated in that moment. Perhaps he realized he might be getting under his opponent’s skin.
“You ain’t gonna do s***,” Burns said. “He’s mad! He hit the table. See you Saturday, buddy.”
Chimaev’s confidence has never wavered since the first day he arrived in the UFC, and he certainly didn’t appear any less sure of himself on Thursday.
“That guy cry at all his fights,” Chimaev said of Burns. “When he loses the fights, he cries. He lose to my coach [Alan Nascimento] three times, he cries every time. He’s going to do the same thing again.
“If he survives the first round, his face, you won’t recognize him. It will be somebody different. I will finish him in the first round.”
For all the hype and attention being paid to Chimaev leading up to the event, Burns isn’t lost on the fact that he’s been near the top of the welterweight division for much longer while facing the better overall competition.
Burns expects to prove he’s that much better when he finally locks horns with Chimaev on Saturday night in the fight the whole world will be watching.
“I’m on my way back to the title,” Burns said. “I gave this guy the opportunity. I’m the No. 2 [ranked welterweight], he’s No. 11. I give him the opportunity because I want to face the toughest guys, the best guys in this division. It’s just going to be another step closer to the title.
“We are the real main event. No disrespect to the champions for sure. Sorry [Alexander] Volkanovski, but we’re the people’s main event.”