In recent months and years, two surging 170lbers from across the Atlantic have caught the eye in the UFC. While one is unbeaten in five fights and recently jumped into the upper echelons of the weight class, the other has shown a similar level of dominance in three appearances on MMA’s biggest stage.
Despite following in footsteps akin to those of Chimaev’s rapid rise, Rakhmonov has previously admitted he gets frustrated when he’s compared to his Chechen-born Swedish counterpart.
Given the latest developments, it seems skill comparisons and discussions about a future fight are about to get a lot more prevalent.
Prior to Gilbert Burns’ clash with Chimaev at UFC 273 this past weekend, Rakhmonov, who’s been training alongside “Durinho” at Sanford MMA in recent times, assessed the skills of his training partner’s opponent, with the quote later being shared to social media.
The caption of the post, uploaded by @redfurymma_official, notes that Rakhmonov gave a less-than-positive take on Chimaev’s abilities. Unsurprisingly, “Borz” hit back in the comment section.
“Who’s that chump?” Chimaev wrote.
What always appeared to be an inevitable rivalry has seemingly been born…
Interestingly, as well as Chimaev deleting his remark, comments on the post have since been turned off, but not before some eager-eyed individuals captured a screenshot, allowing the Kazakhstani to see what had been said of him.
Responding during a fan Q&A, Rakhmonov made his feelings on Chimaev’s comment clear, inviting him to hold the same energy in person.
“Let him say it to my face, not in comments,” asserted Rakhmonov. “We’ll talk when we see each other. I’ve (got) nothing against him. We’re just opponents, and I’m not gonna insult him. I’m not gonna insult his family or nation. We’ll fight one day and then see who’s better.”
When asked whether he was bothered by Chimaev’s remark, “Nomad” suggested it proved that he, as well as his ongoing rise in the UFC, is inside the #3-ranked contender’s head.
“I don’t know. I’m not trying to focus on things like that. It just means that I’m in his head. He’s getting worried about my rise,” concluded Rakhmonov.
Having debuted a few months after Chimaev announced his presence in the UFC, Rakhmonov has been hot on the heels of “Borz” as they’ve ascended the welterweight ladder.
When he catches up with Chimaev, Rakhmonov is expecting to present his fellow 27-year-old with his toughest test to date.
Rakhmonov: I’ll Be Chimaev’s Toughest Fight
In another question, Rakhmonov was asked whether he believes Chimaev truly doesn’t know who he is, something that would be hard to believe given the Kazakhstani’s impressive UFC stint to date, as well as his championship success in M-1 Global.
“Nomad” answered that Chimaev should be aware of him, especially seeing as Rakhmonov believes he’d give “Borz” his toughest fight inside the Octagon. Although having seen Chimaev’s comment, the #15-ranked welterweight is even down to meet on the streets.
“Surely he does (know who I am). How can he not know?! I’m the toughest fight for him, it’s not Burns or a title… We can fight in the cage or in the streets. If someone has something to (say), we can do it. If someone has questions for me, we can do it anywhere.”
While Chimaev’s reputation and immense hype has drawn him the majority of the headlines, Rakhmonov’s rise has been quieter, but arguably equally as impressive.
It wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest that the Kazakhstani has faced tougher opposition in his first three outings than the Chechen-born Swede did. Rakhmonov’s place in the rankings perhaps gives credence to that.
Like Chimaev, Rakhmonov looks set for his first ranked opponent in his fourth Octagon appearance. While “Borz” faced then-#11 welterweight Li Jingliang, “Nomad” is reportedly slated to face current #10 contender Neil Magny, who boasts a victory over “The Leech.”
Should Rakhmonov add the name of “The Haitian Sensation” to his unbeaten 15-0 record, he’ll likely enter the top-10 and perhaps be one victory away from joining Chimaev in the title conversation.
How do you think a fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Shavkat Rakhmonov would play out?
All translations per the Smesh Bros YouTube channel.