Having rag-dolled John Phillips, Rhys McKee, and Li Jingliang, and brutally knocked out Gerald Meerschaert, Chimaev is set for his stiffest test to date at the April 9 pay-per-view.
The undefeated Chechen-born Swede has gained significant hype in just four appearances in the Octagon and has been touted by many as a future champion. If he’s to move one step closer to bringing that prediction to fruition, “Borz” will have to get through one of the division’s top contenders next.
On the UFC 273 main card, the #11-ranked 170lber will share the cage with Gilbert Burns. Since returning to welterweight in 2019, “Durinho” has gone 5-1, a record that includes victories over Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. His sole loss in that period came to titleholder Usman last February.
With Burns sat at #2 in the weight class and Chimaev rapidly surging up the divisional ladder, many have highlighted their clash next month as a title eliminator. At UFC 272 this past weekend, UFC President Dana White even suggested that idea “makes sense.”
But one man who disagrees with that sentiment is perhaps the one man Burns and Chimaev need onboard…
Usman: Chimaev Hasn’t Even Fought In The Top 10
Despite already gaining more mainstream attention than most fighters do across their entire careers, Chimaev sits outside the top 10 and only boasts one win over a ranked opponent.
While the victory over Jingliang showed his potential and further extended his dominance in the Octagon so far, many have suggested “Borz” requires triumphs over top-10 and top-five opponents before entering the title discussions.
That belief was shared by the champion during a media scrum prior to the UFC 272 ceremonial weigh-ins in Las Vegas last week.
“Well, I mean, this guy hasn’t even fought in the top 10. He hasn’t even beat anyone yet,” said Usman.” So, I mean, Covington is still standing in the way. So I think there’s still a couple more fights that he has to get through. But, like I say, I love to compete. When that fight presents itself, I’ll be here to compete.”
Usman didn’t, however, specifically discuss the possibility of Burns earning a rematch with a win over Chimaev. The Brazilian recently suggested he’ll accept nothing but a title shot. However, the mention of Covington perhaps suggests “The Nigerian Nightmare” expects the victor to go through the former interim champ first.
While it appears opinion will be split on Chimaev’s title credentials should he emerge victorious over Burns at UFC 273, the fact Usman isn’t expected to defend his gold against Leon Edwards until the summer will perhaps lead to another fight for “Borz” regardless.
After Covington maintained his place at #1 on the welterweight ladder this past weekend with a five-round triumph over Jorge Masvidal, it seems he’s the man to beat in the division. Perhaps we’ll see the winner of Chimaev vs. Burns face “Chaos” later this year, with a shot at championship glory at stake.
Do you agree with Kamaru Usman? Does Khamzat Chimaev need a few more wins before challenging for the throne?