Khamzat Chimaev is on the fast rise and may be just a few fights away from a title shot.
Chimaev (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has steamrolled his first three opponents. Most recently, he knocked out Gerald Meerschaert in just 17 seconds at UFC on ESPN+ 36 in September.
Two of his first three bouts were contested at middleweight, but he will return to 170 pounds once again when he faces streaking top contender Leon Edwards in the main event of the UFC’s Dec. 19 event.
Willing to compete in both weight classes at the same time, Chimaev isn’t sure which title he’ll get to contend for first, but is confident he can take out both welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and middleweight champ Israel Adesanya.
“(Usman is) a good fighter, but doesn’t have that knockout punch like I have and he doesn’t have wrestling like me,” Chimaev said in a recent interview with Dan Hardy. “What is he going to do? If I do my hard work in the gym, nobody can beat me in the fight.”
Chimaev credited Adesanya for his striking, but couldn’t understand why Paulo Costa was so hesitant in his second-round TKO loss to Adesanya at UFC 253.
“I think Paulo Costa was scared in this fight,” Chimaev said. “I don’t know why people are scared to go in the cage and fight. In the gym, everybody’s tough, like hard sparring. Then (they) come to the cage, they are being chicken. I don’t understand this mentality.
“(Adesanya is) good in the standup, but nobody did wrestling against him. Yoel Romero, he only threw three or four punches in the standup. … I can beat this guy. How is he going to come up from under me if I take him down? I don’t think he will. I’m going to beat his face.”