At UFC 273 in April, rising star Chimaev received a true litmus test of his championship credentials against two-time title challenger Burns. The pair went to war for three rounds, certainly securing their future place in the 2022 Fight of the Year discussion. Although given this past weekend’s headliner, they may have to settle for second place.
After 15 minutes of bloody and back and forth action, it was “Borz” who had his hand raised via unanimous decision, ascending him into the welterweight top five and to within touching distance of a title shot.
Given the close and competitive nature of the contest, it unsurprisingly split opinion. Now, joining Ian Garry as another Sanford MMA teammate backing Burns’ performance, surging prospect Rakhmonov seemingly believes that his Brazilian peer was unfortunate to walk way with a defeat.
During a recent interview with Combat Sports on Fanatics View, “Nomad” suggested that Chimaev’s popularity may have played a part in the Chechen-born Swede getting the nod over Burns.
“I think it was a very equal fight, in my opinion. But Khamzat, I believe, got the win because he’s more popular. Maybe that’s why he was awarded the win,” said Rakhmonov.
However, the #15-ranked welterweight also admitted that Burns’ defensive strategy in the final round likely cost him what would have been an upset victory over the highly touted Chimaev in Jacksonville.
“But first round I don’t know who won, could be Khamzat, could be Burns. Then it was pretty much an even fight. The third round, Khamzat was more of an aggressor. I think that is why Burns didn’t get the win, because he played too defensively,” added Rakhmonov. “But you never know, sometimes I don’t understand UFC judges and how they get to their decisions.”
Rakhmonov has followed a similarly dominant path up the UFC ladder as Chimaev since arriving in 2020. Should he emerge victorious over top-10 contender Neil Magny later this month, the Kazakh will move one sizable step closer to an exciting Octagon date with “Borz.”
Given Rakhmonov’s latest comments, their previous heated back and forth, and the never-ending comparisons between the pair, the backstory will certainly be an intriguing one by the time they come to blows, which appears to be an inevitability given their trajectories.
Do you agree with Shavkat Rakhmonov’s take on Khamzat Chimaev’s victory over Gilbert Burns?