Chimaev made his UFC debut in July 2020 defeating John Phillips by submission in the second round. He fought ten days later stopping Rhys McKee in the first round. He scored a 17-second knockout in his next outing and then a severe case of COVID-19 put Chimaev’s career on hold. He returned the the octagon 13 months later and absolutely destroyed Li Jingliang.
At UFC 273 on April 9, Chimaev proved that he’s one of the top welterweights in the world by defeating the No. 2-ranked contender at the time, Gilbert Burns.
Usman has been largely silent about Chimaev’s rise, but recently gave his thoughts on the new contender in the 170-pound division.
“You get a kid like this that comes in and has all this hype and everyone is talking about him. It’s great. It’s great for the sport. It’s great for guys like myself. It’s very good,” Usman said in an interview with TMZ Sports.
“Khamzat coming in, he’s definitely showed – He’s going a great job. Props to the kid. He’s done a great job with what he’s been presented and the opposition. I take nothing away from him,” Usman said.
The champion had some advice for the 27-year old rising star.
“I think it’s the media’s fault. The media kind of builds you up and then they drop you the moment you don’t live up to that. If I had a word of advice for him it’s just to not get caught up in that because it kind of seemed like that was starting to happen. Don’t get caught up in that because not every day is your day. At some point, someone’s going to come in and it’s going to be their day,” Usman said.
While Chimaev could get a title shot in his next outing, Usman is focused on a rematch with Leon Edwards. Usman defeated Edwards by unanimous decision in December 2015. Edwards is currently the No. 2-ranked contender. The top contender, Colby Covington, has two losses to the champion.
“He (Chimaev) has gone out there and he beat the No. 2 guy in the division. He got the W, so it’s very difficult for me to say, no, he doesn’t deserve anything,” Usman said. “He’s gone up against Gilbert Burns and was able to go out there and do what he needed to do. I take nothing away from him. If that’s the fight then that’s the fight. If that’s not the fight then that’s not the fight. Right now, we kind of have Leon Edwards sitting there.”
“This kid (Chimaev) has done a good job going out there and defeating the No. 2 guy in the division, so if that’s the next fight after Edwards then that’s the next fight. But Edwards is our focus right now.”