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7 Jan, 2022 19:04

UFC star Chimaev agrees to face ex-title challenger

Khamzat Chimaev has verbally agreed to face the former top-ranked welterweight contender in 2022
UFC star Chimaev agrees to face ex-title challenger

Surging UFC superstar Khamzat Chimaev looks set to face former welterweight number one Gilbert Burns after the two 170lbs warriors verbally committed to a forthcoming showdown in a social media exchange.

Undefeated superstar Chimaev has been near-faultless in his four Octagon outings, landing a total of 254 strikes while absorbing just two on a run which has seen him move from MMA obscurity to one of the most highly-touted prospects in the sport's history. The Chechen-born Swede could be set for an uptick in competition in his next outing after agreeing on social media to a contest against Brazilian submission machine Gilbert Burns, the three-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion who unsuccessfully challenged Kamaru Usman for the world title in February 2021.

The 27-year-old Chimaev published a screengrab of a conversation he had with Burns to his social media accounts showing what appeared to be a very cordial exchange between the two in which Burns first suggests they fight in May, before electing for a date on April 9.

Chimaev published the image with a handshake emoji which also featured his reply: "Yes, brother – let's go".

The UFC has an event scheduled for New York's Barclay's Center on April 9 which doesn't yet have any high profile fights attached, although it is certain that Burns' testing of Chimaev's credentials would be one of the most interesting bouts on any card UFC matchmakers might assemble.

Portraying himself shortly after Chimaev shared their purported exchange, Burns told his Instagram following of more than 525,000: "Fight news loading."

Chimaev's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, appeared to endorse the post by replying with three flame emojis.

Chimaev was last seen in the cage in October 2021, when he routed the tough Chinese fighter Li Jingliang, taking him down in the opening seconds of the fight before choking him unconscious before the end of the first round.

Prior to that, Chimaev made his name by winning two fights in the span of just ten days – and in two different weight classes – during the UFC's residency on the so-called 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi in summer 2020.

'Borz' followed that up in September 2020 with a one-punch knockout of experienced veteran Gerald Meerschaert just 17 seconds into the fight.

Chimaev was expected to face another top contender, England's Leon Edwards, a year ago but he was forced to pull out due to a particularly brutal Covid-19 infection which reportedly left him considering retirement.

Burns, meanwhile, rebounded from his defeat to Usman with a comprehensive decision victory against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson in July 2021.

"I think he’s real,” Burns told MMA Junkie of Chimaev in November, calling a fight between the pair "a great option".

“I think he’s been tested. People say, ‘Oh, no. He’s just no.’ I think he fought a couple of good fighters.

"And the other thing, too: the way he beat them. I think I’m going to face him very soon. Why not? I’ll give him the opportunity.”