If the hype surrounding Chimaev was high last year, it’s gone extra-terrestrial with his return to the Octagon last weekend. After building a perfect 6-0 record, including six finishes, the prospect was signed by the UFC last summer. The Chechen-born Swede instantly made himself known with a record-breaking two wins in 10 days on Fight Island.
Having dispatched of John Phillips and Rhys McKee, Chimaev faced a step-up in competition on his third walk to the cage. In Las Vegas, he faced Gerald Meerschaert at middleweight. After just 17 seconds, “Borz” sent “GM3” to the canvas unconscious. Not many have made as big an impact in just three appearances as Chimaev.
That sentiment can certainly be extended to cover his fourth fight at UFC 267. During the Abu Dhabi-held event, Chimaev returned after over a year away from action to face ranked contender Li Jingliang. Inside the opening round, a tight rear-naked choke slept “The leech.”
Covington Doesn’t Board The Chimaev Hype Train
Having well and truly brought his name back onto the welterweight agenda, Chimaev has jumped into the division’s top 10 and, according to many, is likely just one more victory away from a meeting with the 170-pound champion. But while many have touted the 27-year-old to have gold wrapped around his waist sooner rather than later, one top contender isn’t buying Chimaev’s credentials.
In an interview with BT Sport ahead of his own title challenge at UFC 268 this weekend, #1-ranked welterweight Colby Covington was asked for his thoughts on Chimaev’s rise. After creating another bizarre moniker, the former interim champ suggested the surging star can’t be considered a threat to the belt until he defeats a top-five opponent.
“Oh, cumshot Chimaev? Cumshot, you know. What has got, three fights in the UFC? Oh four fights in the UFC? Wow, and we’re talking about this guy like he’s ready for a title shot, ready for the top of the division. When he starts fighting guys that are in like, the top 5, then we can start talking about him potentially fighting these top-name fights. Until then, the guy’s a nobody.”
Prior to his return at UFC 267, Chimaev had been out for over a year due to a rough battle with COVID-19. His illness even made him consider a wildly premature retirement from the sport. According to Covington, that proved “Borz” can’t compete with the top names in the weight class, including him.
“He got took down by the cold. The dude was ready to retire because of the cold. He was crying about this ‘Covid’, man, all you need is some Vitamin C… think about that. He was ready to retire from the cold. Imagine what I’d do to him. I’m not the cold. The cold has a 99.9% survival rate? I tell you what, you get into a UFC Octagon with me, it’s a lot less survival rate than that.”
Covington will be hoping to secure his place atop the welterweight mountain this Saturday at UFC 268. In the main event, “Chaos” will be challenging the reign of Kamaru Usman for the second time. The pair previously clashed at UFC 245 in 2019. In a competitive and entertaining affair, “The Nigerian Nightmare” defended his gold with a fifth-round TKO.
Should Covington have gold wrapped around his waist, perhaps he’ll face a challenge from Chimaev down the line. For the undefeated Swede, a bout with Nate Diaz is seemingly the frontrunner, but Dana White has also suggested “Borz” could meet top-five contender Gilbert Burns instead. It stands to reason a victory over either man will throw Chimaev’s name into the title conversation.
How do you think Khamzat Chimaev would fare against Colby Covington?