Khamzat Chimaev's hardest professional fight
The words Khamzat Chimaev and ‘hard fight’ haven’t really found their way into the same sentence much in recent times.
This incredible addition to the UFC welterweight - and sometimes middleweight division - has well and truly steamrolled his way through his first four matchups in the top flight - already bringing some uniquely ridiculous statistics to the table.
And yes, obviously there was a lot of MMA over the last three weeks - and many topics that we’ll be digging into, including Islam Makhachev’s performance against Dan Hooker - but after diving into a few rewatches from Chimaev’s career as a whole - I felt compelled to make another piece on Khamzat because, even if we’re in a period of down time right now, that may be more valuable than we realise because the man literally could sign and take a fight on the shortest notice possible.
And I love that about this guy’s approach.
Sure his brush with COVID left his future completely up in the air - but upon dealing with that before returning in such impressive fashion against Li Jingliang, this future title contender has managed to once again elevate his name to the highest levels possible.
In the wake of that thoroughly dominant victory, after the initial buzz subsided, I kind of wanted to paint a more vivid picture for myself of Khamzat Chimaev - because his entire UFC run up until this point has been such one-way traffic.
And it takes a special, special type of fighter to make it so - but I have no doubt that we’re eventually going to see Chimaev confronted with some resistance to his relentless pursuit of the takedown - especially if he does climb within reach of the Usman’s and Covington’s of the division.
And though he has encountered very little in the way of issues so far in his run - a jump back into his time fighting under the BRAVE CF banner gives us a better sample size from which to draw takes on Chimaev’s potential.
BRAVE is an organisation I know pretty well - many of the Irish fighters I’ve interviewed over the years have made appearances for them and just in general, it’s a pretty decent place to spot up and comers in their earliest years.
For what it’s worth, Chimaev’s pre-UFC run was no cakewalk - and those first five pro-outings saw him take on a couple of names that would go onto post pretty decent records afterwards.
But the main standout for me was his 2019 clash with Ikram Aliskerov.
Aliskerov is one of the more interesting prospects to be in the middle of his rise from the Dagestan scene at the moment - a former combat sambo world champion who entered his battle with Chimaev and 8 and 0 with 5 finishes.
Obviously, it’s not a spoiler to reveal that Chimaev won the fight - but in the time since that outing, Aliskerov has elevated his record to 11 and 1 after a three fight streak of finishes to rebound from his defeat to Khamzat.
But the point here, is that, this little pre-UFC gem saw Chimaev take on a very experienced sambo practitioner, a man who was more than capable of stopping his takedown onslaught.
I think he shot maybe three attempts over the course of the bout’s run time and was barely able to gain control.
On top of that, he also got hit more in this matchup than his entire UFC career total combined.
Now, I’m not hating on the dude - and let me just point out that this fight, which arguably was the toughest of Khamzat’s career - lasted a grand total of 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
When that takedown eluded him, and he started to open up on the feet with his hands and leg-kicks, Khamzat managed to find one of the most picture-perfect short uppercuts imaginable, completely sparking Aliskerov there and then.
Again, this video isn’t intended as some grand statement about the wrestling dominance of Chimaev being thwarted or how his stand-up skills are comparable to his takedown game - I just thought this was a legitimately interesting matchup against a very credible opponent that served up some thought-provoking problems for Khamzat that he was forced to answer with one helluva finish.
Aliskerov is definitely a fighter I’ll continue to keep my eyes on along with the other members of the next Dagestani wave - but for those of you who are just dying to get more of an insight into Khamzat Chimaev - this fight, along with many of his other early-career bouts are widely available on YouTube.
And I do have a feeling that this win is going to age quite well as Aliskerov makes his own ascent into the sport’s upper echelons.
For myself, I’m still not convinced that Chimaev is the man to defeat Usman - even I think he’s one of the best prospects in the UFC - and the sport as a whole right now.
But like any eagerly anticipated rise in this sport - the bigger the challenges get - the more questions that this incredibly gifted fighter will be forced to answer.
And if we’re looking at forecasting how Khamzawt might deal with such adversity, I just liked how his inability to score the takedown saw him adapt and overcome what could have been a far more difficult task.
That guy has power in his hands, as we all know, but there was a precision to that uppercut that I would be very encouraged by if I were one of his psycho diehard fans.
Now, I don’t think his striking is on an elite level just yet by any means - but this guy’s intensity in there, the fight that’s engrained into him - something he shows us in glimpses through his ferocity and gamesmanship - yea, it’s hard not to be very hopeful about his chances of breaking into title contention next year.
And without any real overarching narrative - I just wanted to share this interesting piece of Khamzat Chimaev backstory with you guys - because all that will do is further the excitement when he does eventually make his next walk.
For now, I await that announcement - and based on his history, I’d imagine that we won’t be waiting for too long before we’re given another look at this scintillating prospect.
As I said in a previous video, even with his number 10 rank in mind, I don’t exactly want to see him fasttracked to the title - I’d prefer another fight or two before we really start talking about him as a top-3 welterweight.
I want this for him because he’s young, because he’s clearly still improving, and because the sport’s pound for pound number 1 sits on the throne and should not be underestimated in his potential to do some nasty things to Chimaev if he’s not fully ready.
I can see Khamzat becoming a champion, like a lot of you, but let’s just savour this hugely valuable and compelling period of his career for now, shall we!