The bell sounded, Khamzat Chimaev shot on Li Jingliang, grabbed him around the waist, lifted him and carried him across the Octagon at UFC 267 inside Etihad Arena and dropped him in front of UFC president Dana White.
As he brought him over, Chimaev was talking to White the entire time.
“Who’s next? I’ll fight anyone. I don’t care. Give me Brock Lesnar,” White recalled Chimaev saying.
Chimaev may not be ready for Lesnar, the hulking former UFC heavyweight champion, but would you want to be against him? In his fourth UFC fight, and the second at welterweight, Chimaev made Jingliang look like a beginner.
Jingliang entered the bout as the 11th-ranked welterweight in the world. He was choked out by a rear naked choke in 3:16. Amazingly, Chimaev had 3:01 of control time, was 25-for-25 on significant strikes landed and had three submission attempts. He was also 1-for-2 on takedowns. Jingliang was 0-for-1 in significant strikes.
In his four UFC fights, Chimaev has three first-round finishes and one second-round finish. Opponents are 1-for-4 in significant strikes against him. He is 135-for-155 in significant strikes. He’s also connected on 4-of-6 takedown attempts.
He is remarkable in a way that no other UFC fighter has been. He may ultimately meet his match, but he has the look of a guy who is going to be a significant contender in either welterweight or middleweight.
“I am coming for everybody,” Chimaev shrieked after it was over.
His grappling and wrestling are fearsome and his striking is good enough that he took out a quality middleweight, Gerald Meerschaert, with one punch essentially.
Jingliang is by far the most accomplished opponent he has faced. Jingliang came into the fight off an impressive victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio and with a 10-4 record. He wasn’t even close to competitive.
Chimaev is a guy who clearly needs to be facing the top guys in the two divisions he competes in.
He was off since his win over Meerschaert on Sept. 19, 2020. He got a bad case of COVID-19, tried to come back too early several times and was unable to train for a lengthy period.
But he looked in peak form right from the start on Saturday. And he has a swagger about him that fans love.
He likes to say how he’ll “smesh” his opponents, but took it to a new level on Saturday.
“I will kill everybody,” he said, over and over. “Do you believe now?”
I believe. And I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of elite welterweights and middleweights believe, too. Because of that, it might not be easy to get him fights.
But he’s a prodigy and you have to see him. He’s an amazing athlete who combines grappling and striking expertly. There are legendary tales of his strength, and his belief in himself is so complete, that when Conor McGregor was trash talking his countryman, Khabib Nurmagomedov, a few years ago, Chimaev flew to Ireland, hoping to meet McGregor on the street.
He said he wanted to beat up the former UFC champion for taunting Nurmagomedov. That never happened and Irish police put him on a plane back home to Sweden.
The guy’s a star now, though, and expect to see a lot of him in the next few years.