With three victories in the space of 66 days in 2020, including a 17-second knockout of middleweight mainstay Gerald Meerschaert, Chimaev established his name as one of the top prospects in the promotion.
But thanks to a rough battle with COVID-19, “Borz” was left on the sidelines for over a year, even contemplating retirement. When he made his comeback, however, he did so in vicious fashion, choking ranked 170lber Li Jingliang unconcious in one round at UFC 267 last October.
Having jumped to #11 on the welterweight ladder, Chimaev has made his goal clear – smash his way to the top of the division.
But according to Dana White and the UFC, finding Chimaev’s next opponent was not an easy task. In a December appearance on The Jim Rome Podcast, White claimed no top welterweight wanted to share the cage with the Chechen-born Swede.
“Khamzat Chimaev is one of the baddest dudes I’ve come across,” claimed White. “He’s willing to fight anyone, and doesn’t care what the timeframe is, or any of that stuff. He’s one of the baddest dudes I’ve ever come across.” (h/t MMA Weekly)
Recently, however, the #4-ranked Luque claimed he’d been offered a clash with Chimaev in London, one that he accepted and was more than willing to travel across the Atlantic for.
Luque Rubbishes ‘No One Wants To Fight Chimaev’ Narrative
After confirming the failed booking during an interview with The AllStar, “The Silent Assassin” assessed the narrative that Chimaev has been a heavily-avoided figure in recent months.
Using himself and Gilbert Burns, who is set to fight “Borz” at next month’s UFC 273 pay-per-view, as examples, Luque claimed there’s little truth behind the claim high-level matchups weren’t available for Chimaev.
The reason for the story gaining traction, the Brazilian says, is the fact casual fans believe everything they hear.
“I don’t know, man. I can talk about me, and I was down to fight him for sure,” said Luque. “And I know Gilbert as well, and I know that he was always down to fight him. And now he is actually gonna fight him. I think they just wanted to build his name a little bit more. He has all that hype going.
“Fans, like, casual fans, believe anything they hear. So they hear that, ‘Oh man, Chimaev, nobody wants to fight him, he’s a terrifying guy and he’s gonna beat the whole division.’ They’ll hear that and they’ll get excited and they’ll get behind that fight,” continued Luque. “And that sells the fight. I think that’s what they were trying to build. But on my end, and on Gilbert’s end, I know the two of us, for sure, we’re always down to fight him.”
Further backing up Luque’s point of view is the clear willingness of top-10 contender Neil Magny to share the Octagon with Chimaev. “The Haitian Sensation” has long called out “Borz,” even before his return to action against Jingliang last October.
What do you make of the narrative that welterweight contenders were avoiding Khamzat Chimaev?