Former UFC commentator and middleweight Brian Stann saw the rise of Khamzat Chimaev – three years before ‘Borz’ joined the MMA promotion.
The 27-year-old burst onto the Fight Island scene during the COVID pandemic in 2020 where he fought twice in ten days, winning both.
During a Q&A with fans ahead of UFC Fight Night: Auckland in 2017, Stann was asked if he knew of any up-and-coming fighters who deserved a chance in the business.
“There is a welterweight in Sweden, at All-Stars MMA of Sweden who trains Alexander Gustafsson. I do not know his name. I just know him by reputation,” Stann replied.
“He’s not in the UFC yet, but he’s having a lot of success with all the big names training with the MMA All-Stars in Stockholm, and when we get this kid signed, I think he’ll going to make real waves.”
The mysterious welterweight Stann was talking about was Chimaev, the Swedish-Dagestani fighter, who made his UFC debut with a perfect 6-0 record he amassed fighting in the Middle East for Brave CF.
Chimaev dominated and dispatched Welsh middleweight fighter John Phillips in two rounds on the UFC Fight Night undercard: Kattar vs. Ige.
Days later, “The Wolf” moved up to welterweight and picked up a TKO victory over former Cage Warriors star Rhys Mckee.
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He knocked out the Northern Irishman in one round the same night Robert Whittaker returned to action with a win over Darren Till, who has since struck up an unlikely friendship with Chimaev.
Chimaev moved to 3-0 in September 2020 and picked up the biggest win of his career when he scored a spectacular one-hit knockout of Gerald Meerschaert in a fight that lasted just 17 seconds.
A fierce battle with COVID-19 ensued for the new UFC star, who was sidelined for a year before returning to action against ranked welterweight contender Li Jingliang on the undercard of UFC 267 in October.
Chimaev made the toughest test of his career easy by taking Jingliang, slamming him to the mat and clocking a three-minute submission win in Abu Dhabi.
In his four-fight run in the UFC, Chimaev has incredibly only absorbed two major strikes from his opponents. These types of stats are unheard of and are part of the reason Chimaev has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting prospects in MMA history.
At UFC 273 on Saturday, Chimaev gets the chance to go from prospect to contender when he takes on former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns, who is a serious step up in opposition.
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