2020 was not just a fantastic year for the UFC and President Dana White, but also for Chechen-born Khamzat Chimaev, who rose to fame through his performances in Abu Dhabi on the Fight Island cards of July 2020.
Chimaev shocked many fans worldwide with his UFC Debut in July 2020 where he defeated middleweight John Phillips in a performance that went on to win ‘Performance of the night’. It didn’t stop there for Chimaev. Following this victory, Chimeav was electric in his post-fight interview insisting he was ready to jump back into the octagon in a moments notice.
Chimaev’s second bout in the UFC took place only 10 days after, where he faced a Rhys McKee who unfortunately had took the fight on short notice. This was another one sided fight with Chimeav finishing McKee within the first round by TKO, this not only marked Chimaev’s second win in the UFC but also secured his second ‘Performance of the night’ bonus.
Chimaev went on to become a sensation online through his ecstatic personality and desire to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. However the compliments came no short of criticism with many middleweights claiming they could easily ‘de-rail’ the ‘hype train’ that was Chimaev.
Chimaev was then matched with Gerald Meerschaert, who believed he was capable of dragging Chimaev into deep water unimpressed with Chimeavs grappling and smothering approach. Chimeav instead opted for a different approach in this fight and knocked Meerschaert out in phenomenal fashion, putting him to sleep within 17 seconds. This brought Chimaev’s record to 3-0 and also marked his third ‘Performance of the night’ bonus.
It had been rumoured that Chimeav was next to face Leon Edwards in a welterweight main event that would have catapulted Chimaev into a top-contender spot. Instead, Chimaev found himself testing positive for Covid-19 which caused him to take a hiatus from training. Chimaev found himself growing increasingly frustrated as his path to glory had been put on hold, leading Chimaev to go on a rant on Instagram which lead many to believe he had retired from the sport.
Now, we can safely say that in 2021, we can expect to see the return of the Chimaev as he is now due to make his return to welterweight where he will face a top-15 ranked Jingliang who is coming off the back of a KO win over Santiago Ponzinibbio. The bout is scheduled to take place on October 30th in Abu Dhabi according to Combate.
Whilst it isn’t a top 10 contender, it will still make for a great match-up for Chimaev especially considering he hasn’t made an appearance in the octagon since September 2020.
Do you think this match-up between Khamzat Chimaev and Li Jingliang?