And he knows it.
“Of course everyone look at my fights, you know?” Chimaev said Wednesday during UFC 273 media day. “Everyone want to see me. That’s why everyone want to see that fight more than the other fights. Because I’m the king. Everyone want to see kings.”
With the demeanor of a stone-cold assassin, Chimaev, 27, spent roughly 10 minutes in front of reporters answering questions about various topics and fighters. First and foremost was Gilbert Burns, whom Chimaev meets Saturday in a highly anticipated pay-per-view showdown.
Burns, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings, is a giant leap in competition from honorable mention Chimaev’s previous four UFC fights against John Phillips, Rhys McKee, Gerald Meerschaert, and Li Jingliang.
In each of those four fights, Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) dominated and won by stoppage – three of them in first round, including a 17-second knockout of Meerschaert. He’s been practically untouchable, absorbing only two significant strikes.
Burns’ high-level experience, strength and jiu-jitsu prowess make him unlike any of those aforementioned UFC opponents, and it’s clear he’s put in the preparation, but Chimaev isn’t sweating that one bit.
“This is not jiu-jitsu. This is not wrestling,” Chimaev said. “This is MMA. This is fighting. This is not take the gi and hold somebody. I’m gonna smash his face everywhere.”
Burns has won seven of his past eight fights, with his lone defeat to reigning champion and pound-for-pound No. 1 Kamaru Usman in February 2021. However, Burns’ status as an elite fighter hasn’t slowed down the Chimaev hype or stopped oddsmakers from listing him as a massive favorite (-550, according to Tipico Sportsbook).
Whether it’s confidence or arrogance, Chimaev himself has bought into his own hype. That much is clear. So don’t even bring up feeling any pressure having to live up to it.
“No, nothing. It’s the same sh*t,” Chimaev said. “Gonna go in there, smash the guy. If you have some pressure, give me. I’ll break that.”
Title shot next?
If Chimaev has the dominant performance he boasts of at UFC 273, there are rumblings that a title shot against Usman could await.
While nothing is booked, Usman is expected to go for his sixth consecutive title defense in July against Leon Edwards, who’s on a 10-fight unbeaten streak that includes one no contest. But the way Chimaev sees it, that title would be his with a win over Burns – and he’d have no qualms about cutting the line.
“If they do that fight, (does) somebody care about that fight? I don’t think so,” Chimaev said. “Dana White want to make that fight? Leon Edwards, nobody know that guy. Usman, he’s the same. Nobody want to see that guys. Everyone want to see me there, smash them both.”
He continued, “(Edwards) almost lose his last fight to Nate Diaz, the skinny guy. Five rounds, and last round he gets tired. If he gets tired against Diaz, what I gonna do with this guy? He’s gonna get tired after first minute. I’m gonna knock him out. This guy not my level.”
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Author: Simon Samano
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