Khamzat Chimaev: Who is Next? Everyone is Next
There isn’t a more significant breakthrough star in the UFC who can garner the entire community’s attention than Khamzat Chimaev can.
Residing in the UFC’s welterweight division, Chimaev burst onto the scene in late 2020 and quickly amassed three consecutive victories within the promotion. All of them via stoppage, all of them dominant performances, all of them accompanied by a post-fight interview oozing self-confidence and a clear desire to dominate all on-comers.
The hype seemed natural as critics and UFC fans alike were sold, the hype train was fuelled, and 2021 looked to deliver an intriguing rise to stardom for the Russian-born martial artist. A scheduled bout with the top-five ranked Leon Edwards could’ve boosted Chimaev into title contention, but Covid-19 had other plans.
Chimaev was side-lined for most of 2021, but after a lengthy battle with the virus, he returned to the octagon at UFC 267 in October. Another masterful performance over Li Jingliang silenced any remaining doubters as the welterweight division was put on notice. Chimaev took his position as the number 11th ranked UFC welterweight after a mere four appearances.
There’s no other storyline that MMA followers want to see play out more heading into 2022. The next chapter of Chimaev’s journey is eagerly anticipated as he’ll face the top-10 ranked welterweights on the planet. In addition to his impressive in-octagon skills, his personality has resonated well with the audience, and it doesn’t take much for the latest Chimaev news to go viral.
Naturally, with the rising stars of combat sports, challengers and call outs aren’t far behind. However, you won’t find a long list of fighters truly willing to sign a contract putting them against Chimaev. Of course, the call outs on social media arrive in abundance, but those legitimately want to compete, not so much.
With that said, number #8 ranked Neil Magny has been consistent in his willingness to square up with Chimaev.
Straight out of Brooklyn, New York, UFC veteran Magny reminded onlookers that he’s been calling out Chimaev for over a year: “This whole Boogeyman idea, that no one wants to fight him, I’m like ‘no man, I’m right here.’ I’ve been trying to fight you for literally a year.” Magny commented on Ariel Helwani’s ‘The MMA Hour’ show.
“I mean, like, I’m trying to wrap my head around, and I can’t figure it out. So last year this whole, ‘No one wants to fight Khamzat Chimaev’. So, Dana White came out and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to give credit where it’s due; Neil Magny is the only guy that is willing to step in and fight Khamzat Chimaev. I thought when he said that I was going to be like, ‘Alright cool, Dana White acknowledged that. I’m the only guy who wants to fight Khamzat, and this fight’s going to happen. Let me just go ahead and wait for this contract to come through, and yeah, here we are a year later, still discussing the same thing. Last year you weren’t even ranked, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take the fight.’ This year you’re finally ranked; you’re #11, I’m #8 and still not sure. Let’s make the fight; let’s make it happen.”
With a professional MMA record of 25-8-0, Magny is now a 9-year UFC veteran, unquestionably a difficult task for Chimaev. Often underestimated, Magny is usually a primary focus of New York sports betting enthusiasts due to his enticing odds and New York blood. Having cashed as the betting underdog on countless occasions, Magny will be undoubtedly overlooked versus Chimaev, but will the bout come to fruition?
Given the short queue of fighters openly wanting to fight Chimaev, does the UFC president have many choices?
Last week, Chimaev revealed he’s preparing to fly to Las Vegas to book his next matchup, which means that ‘Borz’ next chapter is ready to be written. “Who is next? Everyone is next. You are next, brother. I don’t know who is next. I fly tomorrow to Vegas. Inshallah. Smash somebody.” He stated on social media.
Whether Chimaev will face Magny or not, there’s no denying that his highly anticipated return will gain more attention than that of certain UFC champions.
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