Artwork by Lupe Pacheco-Gomez
Written by Charlie Erdman
An anomaly is defined as something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev has deviated from what is standard, normal, or expected. He is an anomaly.
Born in Chechyna, Russia in 1994, Khamzat was immediately set into a world of adversity. He was born in the midst of the First Chechen War and then grew up during the Second Chechen War. These were difficult times for Khamzat and the Chechen people, a life constantly surrounded by threats of death and tragedy. At the time, guerrilla warfare, suicide attacks, terrorism, and assassinations were prevalent throughout Chechyna. Many Chechens including Khamzat and his family knew this life was not safe and sought refuge in another part of the world. Ultimately, the Chimaev family chose Sweden. At the age of eighteen, Khamzat joined his mother and brother and officially moved to Kalmar, Sweden.
Once Khamzat had settled down in Sweden he decided to start wrestling again. Something he was known for in his native country, as he won a bronze medal at the Russian National Championships at the junior level. Khamzat had begun wrestling at the age of five and with this wealth of knowledge, he began dominating the Swedish wrestling scene. Khamzat won the gold medal in 2016 and 2017 at the Swedish Freestyle National Championships at 86 kilograms. In 2018 he moved up weight classes and captured gold at 92 kilograms. With all this success in wrestling, Khamzat decided to begin training in MMA in hopes of making it to the big show someday. After moving to the capital city of Stockholm, Khamzat officially started training at the Allstar Training Center. Home to UFC legend and three-time light heavyweight title contender Alexsander Gustafsson, among other reputable UFC fighters. Khamzat had found his match and was eager to become a mixed martial artist.
In 2017, Khamzat started on his MMA journey with a series of amateur fights. He made his amateur debut in September, and won via a second-round brabo choke submission. He fought again in November, winning again in the second round with a guillotine choke. After a few months of training and preparation, Khamzat fought his final amateur fight in April 2018 and won with an impressive first-round TKO (technical knockout). Khamzat felt he was fully prepared for the next step and decided to turn pro a few weeks later.
A month after turning pro, in late May of 2018, Khamzat made his professional debut at a regional fight promotion in Uppsala, Sweden. Khamzat smashed his opponent earning a second-round TKO victory. A few months later in August 2018, Khamzat fought once more at a Swedish promotion and again secured another finish this time with a first-round submission via rear-naked choke. Khamzat was on an absolute tear. Undefeated as an amateur with all wins coming by finish, and now securing two finishing in his first tw proffesional fights.
Fired up to keep his momentum going, Khamzat decided to sign with one of the fastest-growing global MMA promotions, Brave Combat Federation. In late December of 2018, Khamzat made his Brave CF debut against American prospect Sidney Wheeler. Khamzat promptly demolished Wheeler. After shooting for a takedown, he took Wheelers back and rained down vicious hammer fists for a 35-second TKO in the first round. Khamzat was not done, five months later in April of 2019, he took on undefeated Russian prospect Ikram Aliskerov. In a stunning performance, Khamzat landed a quick and perfectly timed uppercut to knock Aliskerov completely unconscious. This wasn’t the first time Khamzat had put on an unbelievable display of his abilities but considering the skilled opponent and stage, this was the first time the mixed martial arts world fully realized what Khamzat was truly capable of, greatness. As one Brave CF broadcaster put it, “I believe we are looking at the future of mixed martial arts.” The MMA world might not have been ready for him but Khamzat Chimaev did not care. He was here not to take part but to take over.
After Khamzat’s amazing display in December, he once again stepped into the cage with another capable opponent. This time it was Mzwandile Hlongwa, an undefeated South African prospect with all of his wins coming by knockout. Khamzat took on Hlongwa in October of 2019 and again put on an absolute masterclass of a performance. Straightaway Khamzat shot in for a takedown, took Hlongwa down, and controlled him for the entirety of the round. In the second round, Khamzat continued his dominance by picking Hlongwa up and literally walking him across the canvas to his corner of coaches to throw him down and await further instructions. After listening to his coaches, Khamzat takes Hlongwa’s back and sinks in a brabo choke to put Hlongwa to sleep. To the surprise of very few, Khamzat had again won in commanding fashion and finished his opponent. Khamzat was ready for the bright lights, undefeated at 6-0, with a 100% finishing rate. He was unquestionably on the UFC’s radar and confidently awaited a call to the big show.
In July 2020, that call came. He was set to take on Welsh slugger John Phillips, in a middleweight matchup (185lbs limit). Phillips came into the fight with a record of 22-9 and carried a 100% finishing rate with an astounding 20 wins via knockout. Khamzat was a short-notice replacement for talented prospect Duško Todorović.
Keen to finally show the world what he was all about, Khamzat paced back and forth, shouted, flexed, and stared intently at Phillips as introductions were being read. As the legend Bruce Buffer announced his presence, Khamzat stared vigorously into the eyes of Phillips without blinking, “fighting out of Stockholm Sweden, Khamzat “BORZ” CHIMAEV!” It was time, at 26 years old Khamzat Chimaev had arrived. After only four years of mixed martial arts training, Khamzat had stormed his way to the UFC and was ready for whatever came next. Referee Herb Dean clapped his gloves and got the action underway, “Ready… Fight!” As soon as the fight begins Khamzat moves into the center of the octagon, quickly lands a kick to the body, and proceeds to land a double leg takedown. Khamzat then moves Phillips cageside and strategically next to his corner of coaches for further instructions. After a couple of directives, Khamzat begins to rain down vicious elbows and ground and pound. Nearly ending the fight, Khamzat continues to pepper Phillips with shots for the entirety of the round to seal what was presumably scored a 10-8 round for Borz. According to the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts, “A 10-8 Round in MMA is where one fighter wins the round by a large margin”. In other words, utter dominance. As the second round begins, Phillips looks frightened and his face battered, while Khamzat smiles and intently waits to finish what he had started. Eleven seconds into the second round, Khamzat nails another double leg takedown and starts to work towards a finish. After switching into side control Khamzat secures a D’Arce choke and locks it in for the finish. A few seconds later, Phillips taps and it’s over. Khamzat had done it. Remaining undefeated and soundly defeating his opponent on his UFC debut. Khamzat had landed 124 strikes compared to only 2 strikes from Phillips. A complete and utter smashing on Khamzat’s behalf. After the fight, Khamzat received the fifty-thousand dollar Performance of the Night bonus from UFC President Dana White. This was a huge step in the right direction for Khamzat Chimaev, coming from war-torn Chechnya this was everything he could have dreamt of. In the grand scheme of things however, this was only the beginning for Khamzat Chimaev!
One of the biggest attractions of Khamzat Chimaev is his attitude and eagerness to fight whenever and wherever. This was in full effect, only ten days after mauling John Phillips in his UFC debut, Khamzat stepped into the octagon once more! This time Khamzat was taking on Northern Irish prospect Rhys McKee in a welterweight showdown (170lbs limit). McKee who was making his UFC debut at twenty-four years of age came in with a record of 10-2. A highly-touted prospect out of British-based MMA promotion Cage Warriors, McKee had a similar mindset to Khmazat. McKee was taking the fight on only seven day’s notice and was here to prove that he to was a legit contender.
As the introductions begin, Khamzat paces back and forth rapidly while screaming in anticipation and excitement. McKee on the other hand simply stares down Khamzat stoically as he attempts to remain focused and calm before the battle ahead. Referee Rich Mitchell gets the fighters ready, both men touch gloves and the fight is on. Three seconds later, Khamzat charges into McKee and completely picks him up to walk him across the octagon to his corner for the takedown. This trend that we’ve seen Khamzat do not only shows his strength and power but notably his intelligence. He has the wherewithal and strength he has to move the fight into a position where his coaches on the outside can diagnose what he needs to do next to set up a finish of his opponent. Once Khamzat throws him down onto the canvas, he gets McKee into a body lock, and starts hammering him with ground and pound. After a relentless flurry of elbows, hammerfists, and punches, referee Rich Mitchell steps in and saves McKee from anymore damage. At the three-minute and nine second mark of the very first round, Khamzat had earned yet another win and finished his opponent with a TKO stoppage. Khamzat had just made history, winning two UFC fights in only ten days! He did so in typical Khamzat fashion, utter domination. He had landed 68 strikes on his opponent while McKee had landed zero! This impressive showcase put Khamzat on the map as one of the UFC’s hottest prospects. In his post-fight interview, Khamzat calmly says “Give me one hour I can fight, I am here, I’m going to smash everybody brother it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows these guys aren’t on my level brother. Give me champion at 84 kilos and 77 kilos, I’m going smash both, same day.” This combination of brash confidence and dominant skill makes Khamzat even more authentic and exciting to watch. In addition, Khamzat had once again earned the fifty-thousand dollar Performance of the Night bonus from Dana White. And with this recent performance, he made it imperative for the UFC to give him a certified veteran/contender for his next fight. A step up in competition would allow us to adequately gauge how good this young man really is at the ripe age of twenty-six.
A few months later the UFC had found his next opponent. Veteran submission artist Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert. GM3 came into the bout with a record of 31 wins and 13 losses. Twenty-three of those wins came by submission and he stood as Khamzats biggest test to date. Khamzat wasn’t afraid, as he affirmed in their prefight press conference, “I’m going to smash your face. How you gonna stop that.” The confidence was flowing, both inside the cage and out. Khamzat was prepared. This was nothing for him, a fight in a cage was easy compared to surviving through the wars in Chechnya. This is no life or death mission for Khamzat, simply a way of life and something he thrives at.
As introductions are made, it is almost clear who is going to win. Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert paces back and forth slowly and emotionless as Bruce Buffer announces his name, but as Buffer turns around to announce Khamzat, the energy inside the UFC Apex amplifies. Smiling and screaming in excitement is the man of the hour, Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev. Khamzat paces around rapidly and looks directly at Meerschaert with an ominous intensity. He is ready for war. Shouting “WOOOO” repeatedly and jumping up and down with potent anticipation. Referee Mark Smith calmly starts things off, “Gerald ready, Khamzat ready. Fights ON.” Khamzat and Gerald move to the center of the octagon and start to find each other’s range. Khamzat in the orthodox stance throws a body kick and continues forward with pressure. Gerald starts to circle to the left but Khamzat follows and pressures him closer to the cage. Khamzat quickly sets his feet, positions himself, and before Gerald could blink, lands a flush right hand into Gerald’s chin for a seventeen-second walk off KO! Before it had even begun it was OVER! One and done, Khamzat Chimaev had slept Gerald Meerschaert with his first punch of the fight. Play-by-play analyst Jon Anik was almost speechless and could only state, “YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!” Absolutely remarkable. Again, Khamzat hadn’t been hit with a single strike. Color analyst and current UFC bantamweight Dominik Cruz was on the call with Jon Anik and in shock he says, “Oh my goodness, just literally too fast, straight down the middle on the button. It doesn’t get more perfect than that!” Ladies and gentlemen, Khamzat Chimaev is the real deal. Standing perfect at 9-0, with every win coming by finish and complete domination. And for the third fight in a row, Khamzat had earned the fifty-thousand dollar Performance of the Night bonus from Dana White. This was the type of dominance that shut down all the questions and hype surrounding Khamzat’s ability. It was now UFC President Dana White’s job to find Khamzat a capable and fitting opponent.
A few weeks after Khamzat’s momentous 3-0 start in the UFC, he contracted COVID-19. This battle was tougher than any opponent he had ever faced. COVID did a number on Khamzat, and he was struggling severely with his health. After being flown to the United States for treatment by Dana White, Khamzat returned to Sweden to recover. Back in Sweden, Khamzat went to training in hopes of getting back to normal. Unfortunately, he contracted COVID-19 again. This time it was worse. The virus ravaged his body to such a degree that he temporarily retired from MMA. After many months of recovery, Khamzat was COVID-free and aimed to get back on track.
In July of 2021, the UFC announced that Khamzat was being booked with UFC mainstay “The Leech” Jingliang Li for UFC 267 in late October. This was a big step up in competition. The Leech was fresh off a huge first-round knockout of UFC welterweight stalwart Santiago Ponzinibbio. While Khamzat had just overcome the battle of his life with a deadly virus and hadn’t fought in a long while. Regardless, Khamzat was confident and ready for the battle ahead.
It was time, October, 30th, 2021. UFC 267 and the return of Khamzat Chimaev. For some his hype was real and for others, the hype was finally going to be tested against top-level UFC competition in “The Leech” Jingliang Li. Regardless, it was going to be an entertaining fight. The Leech came into the welterweight bout with a record of 18-6. Known as a durable hard hitter, the Leech was out to prove everyone wrong as a sizable underdog. Which he had just done against Ponzinibbio, a few months prior. Similar to the Leech, Khamzat did not care about his opponent’s previous accomplishments and was here to do a job, smash his opponent.
It was time. The Leech stood strong in his corner, flexing and shouting just like Khamzat. Both men amped up and ready for war, referee Jason Herzog gets it underway, “Fighter are you ready, you ready, FIGHT.” As he always does, Khamzat pressures the Leech immediately. The Leech throws a huge right hook but Khamzat ducks under and secures a huge takedown. In typical Khamzat fashion, he picks the Leech up and drops him in front of UFC President Dana White sitting cage side. Khamzat body locks the Leech and simultaneously starts shouting at Dana White, “I will fight anyone brother!”. The crowd goes nuts and a “Khamzat” chant starts roaring through the Etihad Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Khamzat starts peppering the Leech with shots on the ground as he looks to advance positions. Khamzat gets on top, gets both hooks in, and flattens his opponent out. In a perfect position for a finish, Khamzat starts hammering away with heavy ground and pound. In an attempt to get free, the Leech completely gives up his neck and Khamzat immediately jumps on it for a rear-naked choke. After the Leech fights out of one attempt, Khamzat gets the right angle, switches sides, and sinks in a perfect submission. Seconds later, The Leech is out cold! Khamzat had done it again. Undefeated at 10-0, with every second via domination. Seconds after the win, analysts Jon Anik and former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier recap Khamzat’s performance brilliantly, “The hype is real! Khamzat Chimaev remarkably does it again! Have you ever seen a phenom like Khamzat Chimaev, a 6 to 1 favorite coming in, there’s no welterweight that he trains with because… he’s too good!” Khamzat has put up performances and numbers unlike any prospect, contender, or fighter for that matter. Four fights into his UFC career, Khamzat has outlanded his opponents 252 strikes to 2! He is unrivaled in his historic undefeated career that legends of the sport like Jon Jones, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and George St. Pierre don’t even compare to Khamzat’s early run in the UFC.
His utter dominance and will to fight whenever and wherever will make him a fan favorite. If he isn’t already. He certainly is in my book and I cannot wait to see Khamzat Chimaev perform in the near future.
According to sources close to the UFC, Khamzat Chimaev has been linked with a potential fight against welterweight title contender and number two ranked Gilbert “Durinho” Burns. Gilbert Burns is fresh off an upset win over legendary karate master Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Burns had fought for the undisputed welterweight championship against champ Kamaru Usman before his fight with Thompson. He lost to Usman in the third round of their title fight via TKO, but put up a great fight and nearly finished Usman in the first round of the fight. Chimaev’s potential fight with Gilbert Burns hit the betting books at a pick’em line of -110 (Meaning the oddsmakers believe it’s a coin flip). After news of the betting odds, the betting public hammered Chimaev’s line and he surged to a three to one favorite. Regardless of who Chimaev fights next, I would suggest tuning in for an entertaining, skillful, and incredible performance.
I truly believe that when it is all said and done, Khamzat Chimaev will be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. For more information on Khamzat Chimaev and the UFC please visit, The UFC Official Website.