Khamzat Chimaev returned to the Octagon at UFC 267 on Saturday and mauled Li Jingliang. The UFC welterweight wasted no time scoring a takedown and getting his opponent to the canvas before securing a rear-naked choke that put Li to sleep in the very first round.
Perhaps more impressive than his overall performance was his ability to multi-task, as evidenced by a brief moment that happened before Chimaev submitted Li. ‘Borz’ lifted ‘The Leech’ up, walked him over to the side of the cage where UFC president Dana White had been seated and started yelling something at him. What Chimaev was saying in real-time was unclear, but White later revealed what the Russian-born Swedish fighter told him during his post-fight press conference.
“He was yelling crazy s—t at me the whole fight,” said White. “I don’t know why, but basically just saying, ‘I’m going to fight everybody, I’ll fight Brock Lesnar, I don’t care who it is.’ He was just yelling stuff like that.”
Chimaev has been – and still seems – supremely confident in his chances against the upper echelons of the welterweight division since his arrival to the promotion over a year ago. Wins over John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert were enough to not only warrant the hype behind him, but also propel Chimaev to a potential career-defining fight against a top-five ranked contender in Leon Edwards in what would have been his fourth UFC appearance.
However, a severe case of COVID-19 derailed that plan. Chimaev dealt with a lot of complications from the disease that had him considering an early retirement. He eventually recovered and booked his first appearance in 13 months, which would be against the previously mentioned Li.
Now healthy and with a win over someone just outside the top ten of the division, Chimaev said he is ready for anyone and would like to stay as active as possible. White certainly has no qualms about that but needs to speak to Chimaev to figure out who his next opponent will be.
“It’s tough once you start to break into the top ten, which he will do on Tuesday,” said White. “But, yeah. If he wants to stay busy, I’m a big believer in that anyway, especially with the huge layoff he’s had. So, I don’t know. We would figure it out if that’s what he really wanted to do.
“I’m sure the guy does want to fight. We’ll get home and figure out what’s next for him.”
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