This weekend Khamzat Chimaev is scheduled to headline his first ever UFC main event. At UFC 279 he’ll be meeting Nate Diaz in a bout that could further the Chechen’s rep as super prospect turned bona fide title contender.
Chimaev’s rise to the top of MMA has been meteoric, thanks to a blistering 2020 where he won three fights in quick succession and in devastating fashion. In his UFC debut he defeated John Phillips with a d’arce choke. He then TKO’d Rhys Mckee. He followed those wins up with a 17-second KO of Gerald Meerschaert.
These wins had UFC President Dana White calling Chimaev a future champion. The UFC attempted to fast-track Chimaev up the UFC’s welterweight rankings with a match-up with current champion Leon Edwards. However, COVID-19 got in the way.
After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, battling severe symptoms of COVID, Chimaev returned in late 2021 and beat Li Jingliang by submission.
That win reignited the hype around Chimaev and he was soon booked with an opponent designed to test whether or not he was ready for the big time.
At UFC 273 in April, Chimaev met Gilbert Burns, who was just a year removed from fighting Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title.
You can watch that contest, which won Fight of the Night honours, below — for free:
It’s safe to say that Chimaev came through his test against Burns with flying colours. He didn’t score a finish over the wily Brazilian, but he showed he deserved to be fighting the who’s who of the welterweight (and maybe middleweight) division.
If he beats Diaz on Saturday, which many are expecting he will, Chimaev will be in prime position to fight for the 170 lbs belt in the near future.
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