UFC President Dana White recently announced that the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev would get his toughest test to date at UFC 273. At that event, scheduled for April 9, the 10-0 ‘Borz’ is due to meet recent title challenger Gilbert Burns.
The fight with ‘Durinho’, who is ranked third in the division, comes after Chimaev (ranked eleventh) submitted Li Jingliang last October.
That win has reignited the hype around Chimaev, who wowed audiences (and White) during 2020 with three emphatic finishes to begin his Octagon career.
However, someone who is not blown away by Chimaev is fellow welterweight Michel Pereira.
Pereira, whose propensity for exciting fights and unorthodox techniques have delighted fight fans, recently spoke with MMA Fighting about Chimaev and his prospects in the division.
“I don’t think he’s this monster people have created,” he said. “We’ll see the real Chimaev in the ‘Durinho’ fight. That’s when we’ll see who’s the real Chimaev. But us, fighters, we kind of see who’s who a little bit. He might surprise, but he’s not [that better] than Durinho. Chimaev is good, but he hasn’t faced top competition yet. I wanna see if he’s that man against Durinho. But I don’t see all that danger people talk about.”
Pereira went on to say he has questions regarding Chimaev’s striking, despite the fact that the Chechen-born Swede has six T/KOs on his 10-fight resume.
“[Chimaev] has great wrestling, of course. But I don’t think his striking is that big of a deal. He fought guys and went there like crazy… I fight for entertainment, to put on a show for the fans. For me, to go there and end the fight in a minute or two, I don’t like this. If it happens, cool, but it’s not my [thing]. I like to go to the second and third rounds. But I don’t think Chimaev is this monster. No. All day, every day, when [they] want [me to fight him], I’m in.”
“He’s good, but he won’t do [the same thing to Burns],” Pereira continued. “The thing is, he has great wrestling, he trains wrestling since he’s a kid, and I think wrestling is one of the best weapons [in MMA]. When the guy has good wrestling, brother, it’s a problem. But I don’t think… I’ll give you the example of Khabib’s cousin [Islam Makhachev]. They have incredible wrestling but to box on the feet, they will trade, but it’s not that great. They might get the knockout because it’s a fight, cool, but they aren’t great. They are fucking great in wrestling, and everybody fighting them knows that. You have to respect them.”
Pereira has quietly put together a four-fight winning streak. He extended that streak at UFC 270 in January by beating Andre Fialho by unanimous decision. That win followed wins over Niko Price and Khaos Williams.
The only losses during his UFC tenure have come against Tristan Connelly and Diego Sanchez. Both those losses featured tactical mistakes by Pereira. Against Connelly the Brazilian lost points for trading activity for out-of-the-box Hail Mary attacks. Against Sanchez he took a DQ loss for an illegal knee.
Pereira doesn’t have a new opponent booked. With MMA Fighting he said that, should he come up against a wrestler the calibre of Chimaev in his next fight, he won’t be too concerned.
“I have [seven] fights in the UFC and was not taken down once. Sure, I haven’t fought a pure wrestler, but people have tried to take me down. Niko is a difficult matchup, he has long arms. I defended it, but you can’t take him off your legs because he has long arms. The thing is, I’m much stronger. Everyone I fought so far in the UFC, I was always the stronger one. I have that advantage.
“Brother, you might have great wrestling all you want, but when you shoot at my strong legs with good [takedown] defense, it feels like you’re shooting at a post. It’s over for wrestling, my friend. It’s like Khabib’s cousin. They are way too strong, brother. And when they put their hands on these chickens, these poor little guys, they will [beat them].”
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