'He's just SMASHING people': MMA world reacts as Russian-born Khamzat Chimaev makes UFC history on Fight Island
The Chechen-born Chimaev utterly overpowered Northern Ireland's Rhys McKee in their welterweight bout on the main card on Yas Island, earning a TKO win with a ground-and-pound assault at 3 minutes and 9 seconds of the first round.
Such was Chimaev's dominance that he landed 68 strikes to McKee's none.
It earned Chimaev, 26, a $50,000 Performance-of-the-Night bonus, but also a place in the UFC history books for recording the shortest ever period between victories in the modern era of the promotion, coming just 10 days after he defeated UK fighter John Phillips in similarly destructive fashion on Fight Island, on that occasion at middleweight.
"Fighting is fighting. I do sparring every day. This is like sparring for me. History is history, what can I say?" said Chimaev, who fights out of Sweden and now stands 8-0 in his career, having finished each of his opponents.
For many observers, Fight Island has given birth to a very special prospect who has set multiple divisions on notice, and has perhaps inevitably earned Chimaev comparisons with Dagestani destroyer and unbeaten lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
"Wow, who in the world is Khamzat Chimaev? This dude right here just smashing dudes. Two of 'em in a week," wrote former two-weight champ and Khabib training partner Daniel Cormier.
Number one-ranked welterweight contender Gilbert Burns was similarly impressed, saying that Chimaev looked very much like a problem.
Wow, who in the world is khamzat Chimaev? This dude right here just smashing dudes. Two of em in a week. Wow— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) July 26, 2020
This guys is for real Chimaev is different #UFCFightIsland3— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) July 26, 2020
Sweden's Alexander Gustafsson suffered a first-round defeat on his return to the octagon on Saturday night in a heavyweight contest against Fabricio Werdum, but found the time to hail his teammate Chimaev, with whom he trains at the Alllstars gym in Stockholm, warning that he was "coming for everyone."
It’s sucks to lose but I’m alive and healthy it’s a sport, a sport that I love! Thanks Werdum for a great fight and the @ufc for the opportunity! Now let’s celebrate my brother and teammate kamza borz!!! He’s coming for everyone, be ready🥇🥇🥇— Alexander Gustafsson (@AlexTheMauler) July 26, 2020
Others echoed that the growing hype around Chimaev was very real, and that he was already well on course for breakout star of the year.
I know it's only July but Khamzat Chimaev, for me, is the front runner for prospect / breakthrough star of the year. He's a problem and I'm here for it. #UFCFightIsland3— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) July 26, 2020
Chimaev came to Abu Dhabi, mugged a couple of pro fighters in two weight classes and left waiting for his next assignment.Dude *literally* has just a little sweat on his forehead, that's it. He is evil and I mean that as the highest compliment.— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) July 26, 2020
Australian Robert Whittaker, who earned a decision victory over Britain's Darren Till in their middleweight main event in Abu Dhabi, gave props to Chimaev, describing him as a "savage" and said he hopes he stays at welterweight.
Speaking to RT Sport ahead of his second Fight Island showdown, Chimaev himself – who is nicknamed 'Borz', meaning 'wolf' in Chechen – said he was "100%" sure he would be a UFC champion in the space of two years – although he now appears on a potentially faster track than that with such an explosive debut in the promotion.
“For me it doesn’t matter, 84kg (middleweight), 77kg (welterweight), if I can make 70kg (lightweight) also, we’ll see in future," he said.
"But now I know I can beat the 77kg champion, the 84kg champion. I’m ready for them.”
A star was born on Fight Island and he firmly has the attention of the UFC.Also on rt.com 'I will be pound-for-pound no. 1': Russian-born Khamzat Chimaev talks title ambitions as he eyes UFC history on Fight Island