Is there a more hyped-up fighter in the UFC right now than Khamzat Chimaev? The welterweight fighter made his debut in 2020 and was dominant, winning three fights and then after a COVID layoff of more than a year, came back and dominated Li Jingliang in October of 2021. Many people are predicting that Chimaev will continue his success in 2022 and eventually get a title shot. Is Chimaev worthy of all the hype? Is he the next big draw in the UFC? We’ll try and answer those questions as we begin the New Year.
Chimaev destroyed John Phillips in his UFC debut and looked even better in his win against McKee. The UFC stepped up the competition and booked Chimaev against Gerald Meerschaert. It was thought that this would be a good test for Chimaev, but the bout didn’t last long, as Chimaev knocked out Meeerschaert in the first round. The UFC had trouble getting anyone to face Chimaev after those three wins and then Chimaev got COVID and it was not the usual case with mild symptoms. Chimaev got a severe case of COVID and he was out for months. It was so bad at one time that Chimaev considered retiring. The good news is that Chimaev started to get good medical treatment and recovered. He got back into full time training and the UFC booked him against a ranked fighter in Li Jingliang.
Many people thought that Jingliang would be a good test for Chimaev but it turned out to be just another dominant win for Chimaev. It was the fourth win for Chimaev in the UFC and he has been dominant in every fight. He has been so dominating that he absorbed a total of one significant strike in those four wins. That type of domination is simply unheard of in the UFC.
What’s Next for Chimaev?
It looks like the UFC is going to put Chimaev against Belal Muhammad in an upcoming UFC matchup in 2022. This would appear to be a good matchup, as Muhammad is the fifth-ranked welterweight in the UFC rankings, but people thought the matchup between Chimaev and Jingliang would be a good matchup and the fight was over quickly. If Chimaev dominated Muhammad like he has everyone else, then he could quickly be in line for a title shot.
The current UFC welterweight rankings have champion Kamaru Usman followed by Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns, Leon Edwards, Vicente Luque and Muhammad. Chimaev is listed at No. 11 but most people believe he will move into the top five with a win over Muhammad. A lot of people are already hoping for a fight between Chimaev and Usman and based on all of the hype it could happen. Whether that is in 2022 is in debate. What needs to happen first is that Chimaev needs to move up the rankings. He would need to get past Muhammad if that fight does happen as expected and then he would need to take out the number one contender in Colby Covington. It has been said that Covington would be open to fighting Chimaev in 2022.
The problem with a Covington-Chimaev fight is that Chimaev needs to move up the rankings first. “Guys, I don’t think they can sanction that fight legally yet,” Covington said to the media, “I think that there’s such a discrepancy in the rankings. I mean, the guy hasn’t even beat anybody in the top 10 yet. I mean, I’ve been in the top 10 for five years now, beating champion after champion. So, I don’t even know if a commission would allow this fight to go through.”
Chimaev UFC Odds
It could also be that Chimaev is matched up against Burns, Edwards or Luque. Some of the early UFC odds predictions on fights between Chimaev and other contenders have been released. Usman would be listed as a -185 favorite over Chimaev if the two fought today. Chimaev would be listed as about a 3-1 favorite against Burns and almost a 3-1 favorite against Edwards.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds at SugarHouse Sportsbook.