Dana White says Khamzat Chimaev could compete on the upcoming Fight Island in Abu Dhabi after “maybe the most special fighter I've ever come across" took 17 seconds to win on US debut on Sunday.
Appearing in the UFC for only the third time – a stretch spanning 66 days – Chimaev knocked out the vastly experienced Gerald Meerscheart with a flush right hand early in the first round at the Apex in Las Vegas. It earned the unbeaten Chechnya-born fighter, 26, a third successive performance-of-the-night bonus.
With the win, Chimaev lifted his overall record to 9-0, and could now return before his scheduled bout with Brazilian Demian Maia in Las Vegas at the end of October.
Asked about the chances of Chimaev fighting on Fight Island 2, which begins in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and runs until October 24, UFC president White said: “Good. The chances are good. The guy wants to fight again. It just took him 17 seconds.
“He didn’t really have a lot of time to train; we flew him in here. It’s been crazy since that kid’s been here. He was training out in a parking lot. He’s a fascinating human being. And yes, if I can turn him around on Fight Island I will.
“The guy’s special. I’ve been in this game my whole life, I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s special. He’s different. He wants to fight again. I’ve never been in a position where I’m like ‘who’s next? How do we get him a fight? How do we get him over here?’
“It’s fun and I like it. When you’re a fight fan, this is the type of guy you love to watch and follow and hate, whatever it might be. This guy is one of the most special fighters I’ve ever seen, if not the most special I’ve ever come across.”
Chimaev in Abu Dhabi
Chimaev debuted in the UFC in Abu Dhabi in July, when he fought twice in quick succession, once at middleweight and the other at welterweight. Brushing aside his two opponents, he made UFC history for the quickest turnaround between wins, at 10 days.
"I don't know what to do with him," White said on Sunday. "He might fight before Maia and fight Maia, too. Maia might not be ready for this kid. What's crazy about his win tonight... he knocked out a guy who's 185lbs with one punch. He’s a 170-lber.
"I’m telling you, the guy is like nothing I've ever seen before. Special."
On whether Chimaev could soon go up against the likes of No 3-ranked welterweight Leon Edwards, White said: “I don’t know yet. If he’s going to fight a guy like that and you’re breaking into the top five, you give the guy a full camp.
“Listen, everybody thought the hype train was over tonight, and we’re going to throw him in with a top-5 guy? To take a guy that fast and just throw him into the top five, maybe he could do it, but you definitely don’t do that.
“This guy has the potential to do anything. We’ll see how this all plays out over the next year. Look at what he’s accomplished over the last 66 days. Imagine what he could accomplish in nine months.”
Speaking afterwards about continued comparisons with undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Chimaev said: "People say 'You're Khabib No 2', something like that. But I'm Khamzat. I can knock out people, submit people, smash people. I have everything."