Khamazt Chimaev says he is already the king of the UFC as he prepares for his toughest test to date in the promotion this weekend against Gilbert Burns – a match-up he believes leads him to defeating welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
The unbeaten Chimaev, 27, has fast become one of the most talked about athletes in the sport following his UFC debut in Abu Dhabi in July 2020, cruising to four wins from four bouts.
The Chechen-born Swede faces a significant step up in opponents, though, when he meets Burns at UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday morning UAE time. The Brazilian, who bounced back immediately from last year’s emotional title defeat to belt-holder Usman with a dominant display against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in July, sits currently as the division’s No 2-ranked contender.
However, such has been Chimaev’s meteroric rise that he actually goes into the clash as the favourite.
“Of course everyone looks at my fights, you know?” Chimaev said during Wednesday’s pre-event media day. “Everyone wants to see me. That’s why everyone wants to see that fight more than the other fights. Because I’m the king. Everyone want to see kings.
“What has [Burns] done in this division? He loses when it comes to Usman. He loses and starts to cry. He beat [an] old man, what’s his name? Demian Maia. Almost 40 years old. Who is he beating in there?
“I will fight [middleweight] or [welterweight] and he comes up from [lightweight] and he starts to cry when he loses his fight. He can’t do nothing to me. I’m going to smash that guy.”
Should Chimaev deliver another blockbuster performance – in his most recent fight, last October, he breezed past China’s Li Jingliang in Abu Dhabi – then many expect him to secure a title shot against Usman. The Nigerian stands atop the pound-for-pound rankings at present, although he is working his way back from a hand injury before an expected championship defence against No 3-ranked challenger Leon Edwards.
“I’m already the champ,” Chimaev said. “That guy doesn’t want to fight me. He goes out to do the surgery and then he wants to go do the boxing somewhere. He can fix his arm and then go do the boxing, I don’t know. The other guy [Edwards], he didn’t fight somebody in the top 10.
“They always find some excuse. I am already the champ. People know that.”
Chimaev added: “They have to give me that title. I want to smash everyone. They have to give me that title if I smash everyone. Who is going to be next? I don’t care.
“If they do that fight [between Usman and Edwards]— somebody care about that fight? I don’t think so. Dana White wants to make that fight. Leon Edwards, nobody knows that guy and Usman, he’s the same. Nobody wants to see that guy.
"Everybody wants to see me there and smash them both. If they give me both guys the same night, I’m going to smash them both.”