The next UFC welterweight title fight is official as reigning champion Kamaru Usman looks to defend his title for the sixth time against Leon Edwards at UFC 278 on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the meantime, the next contender in line will need to be sorted.
Despite Edwards’ lengthy unbeaten streak in 10 fights, the Usman pairing still isn’t the freshest, considering Usman handed “Rocky” his last loss in Dec. 2015. However, when most in the MMA community think of the most enticing new match-up for the champion, Khamzat Chimaev is the first to come to mind.
Bursting onto the scene in 2020 unlike any fighter has ever done before, Chimaev dominated his first four opponents with impossible ease. It wasn’t until “Borz’s” fifth octagon appearance that he was dealt an uphill climb.
At UFC 273 this past April, Chimaev went toe-to-toe with former title challenger, Gilbert Burns, in what turned out to be a Fight of the Year candidate and that evening’s Fight of the Night. Taking more damage than he perhaps has in his entire 11-fight career up until that point, Chimaev continued to prove the hype was real, walking away as the winner via unanimous decision.
Now ranked No. 3 in the official UFC welterweight rankings, Chimaev is getting more fellow contenders open to facing him, like fifth-ranked Belal Muhammad. Impressed with the Burns performance, Muhammad also noticed some holes in the game of Chimaev.
“I saw weaknesses in him,” Muhammad told Food Truck Diaries. “Obviously people are like, ‘Oh man, he’s not as good as we thought he was.’ But I’m like, ‘Yo, he showed that he had the chin, he showed that he got power,’ and it’s like — you’re fighting Gilbert Burns.”
Albeit not to the same degree as Chimaev, Muhammad is riding high off some good momentum, too. Unbeaten in his last eight outings, Muhammad has won three straight with a no-contest against the aforementioned Edwards acting as the divider in his chain of bouts.
Having looked better than ever in his last two outings against the likes of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Vicente Luque, Muhammad has taken the time to go back-and-forth with Chimaev on social media. Ultimately, it led to the two agreeing to fight each other, but the UFC has yet to act on making the fight.
If the fight ends up going down, “Remember The Name” has all the confidence that he’s the one to hand Chimaev his first loss.
“When you get to the top five, if you’re not fighting with a strategy, you’re going to lose to the good guys,” Muhammad said. “For me, these last three fights I showed that I could fight with a strategy because they were all different fighters. I fought Demian Maia, who’s — I had to stay up on my feet. I could not get taken down, so it was all defensive wrestling. Then I fought ‘Wonderboy,’ and I’m not going to kickbox with ‘Wonderboy,’ so I’m you’re going to go in there and take ‘Wonderboy’ down.
“He’s not an easy guy to take down, and I don’t have college wrestling. I’m not a Division I wrestler, but I fight with a strategy, and I dominated more than anybody else has ever dominated him. Then you fight a guy like Luque, who’s knocked me out, who has the most finishes at welterweight and he’s good on his feet and good on the ground. How are you going to beat a guy like that? Oh well, with movement and footwork and then shooting in when he least expects it.”
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Goodnight, sweet prince.
Get it, Gilbert.
I just signed a new multi fight deal with the UFC. Thanks @danawhite and @seanshelby for taking care of me. Just waiting for the next opponent. A lot of people talking abt the @ufc but without the UFC and Dana I would not be here! Thanks my brother @AliAbdelaziz00 the best!
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) June 17, 2022
Who da f*** is that guy?
Swang and bang.
Been a long week, gang. Should be some good action today and tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading!