Another day, another set of wild expectations put upon the shoulders of the 8-0 Khamzat Chimaev; a fighter who has become, as David Castillo would say, MMA’s current Monster of the Week.
The Chimaev hype-train has been rolling since the Swedish/Chechen arrive on Fight Island 1: Kattar vs. Ige on July 16th. There he beat John Phillips with a d’arce. Two quick turnarounds followed, which lead to demolitions of Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert (who Chimaev KO’d in 17 seconds last weekend).
Having fully smeshed into the mainstream, Chimaev has been singled out as a special talent by fans, media and UFC president Dana White. Yesterday the 26-year-old received more lofty praise, from future UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier.
On ESPN Cormier let everyone know just how much faith he has in Chimaev’s potential in the hurt business.
“Let me turn the music on,” said Cormier (h/t MMA Fighting). “Choo choo! Where’s my steering wheel? Because I’m driving the train, baby. You know I’m driving the train. What about when he made his debut and you had to tell me his name? That was like three fights ago! . . . Boy, do I know who he is now. I’m the conductor of this train and I’m not letting certain people on.”
“By 2021, Khamzat Chimaev is fighting for the belt or is the champ,” continued Cormier. “In 2021, Khamzat Chimaev is the double champ, 170 and 185 (pounds). I love (UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya) but he goes up and down, he fights everybody. After what I saw. . . this spaceship is going to the moon. . . He’s got a great philosophy, he’s got a great mind for fighting, he’s got all the physical ability to dominate two weight classes, dude is the real deal.”
Cormier knows a thing or two about being a double champion. The former Strikeforce heavyweight title holder won the UFC light heavyweight belt back in 2015, with a submission win over Anthony Johnson. ‘DC’ defended the title versus Alexander Gustafsson, Johnson again, and Volkan Oezdemir. While still holding the belt Cormier challenged Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight strap.
Cormier beat Miocic at UFC 226 in 2018, becoming the second ‘champ-champ’ in UFC history (Conor McGregor was the first). Cormier relinquished his 205 lb title and defended the heavyweight belt versus Derrick Lewis. In 2019 he lost the title to Miocic.
Last month, after losing to Miocic in their trilogy bout, Cormier announced that he was retiring from MMA.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Chimaev will come close to Cormier’s prediction. Up next for him might be a bout with elite grappler, and former two-weight UFC title challenger, Demian Maia.
About the author