UFC 2022 Preview: Khamzat Chimaev

One of the more hyped fighters right now in the UFC is Khamzat Chimaev (10-0). The Chechen welterweight took the world by storm in 2020 when he made his debut on Fight Island. Chimaev had glowing reviews ahead of his UFC debut, however, there were a lot of question marks.

Many questioned just how good he was due to his competition level. Well, he completely demolished veteran John Phillips in his debut. Instead of going back home, Chimaev decided to stay on Fight Island to see if he could get another fight. The UFC obliged and gave him a fight with prospect Rhys McKee.

Chimaev was even more dominant in that fight and scored his second straight finish. Now, Chimaev’s debut was at 185 pounds and the second fight against McKee which was ten days later was at his natural weight class of 170 pounds. The promotion then booked him for a middleweight contest against Gerald Meerschaert.

Chimaev had used his dominant wrestling for his first two wins, but anyone who knew Chimaev said his striking was just as good. Well, he showed that off against Meerschaert by knocking him out cold on the feet. The UFC then faced a problem with Chimaev.

UFC’s Hottest Prospect

After his blistering 3-0 start, nobody wanted to face Chimaev. One of the top contenders in the UFC, Leon Edwards, decided to step up since he didn’t have a fight either. However, covid would prevent this fight from happening. First it was Edwards, then Chimaev came down with covid and his case was much more severe.

At one point in 2021, it looked like Chimaev was going to retire. However, the UFC was able to get Chimaev the proper medical treatment and he was finally able to resume full-time training in the middle of the year. That’s when the promotion booked his return.

Chimaev returned at UFC 267 to take on ranked contender Li Jingliang. There were so many questions surrounding Chimaev and his return. However, Chimaev answered every single one. He ran through “The Leech” like no one had before. Once again, Chimaev got a stoppage win.

So far, Chimaev is 4-0 in the UFC. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that he’s absorbed one significant strike in those four wins. That’s unheard of. Now, the hottest prospect in the promotion is gearing up for a massive 2022.

2022 Outlook

2022 is expected to be a big year for Chimaev. Right now, it appears that Chimaev is likely going to face off with Belal Muhammad next. Muhammad is currently the fifth ranked welterweight in the UFC. If Chimaev runs through Muhammad like he has everyone else, he might jump right to the front of the line.

People are already dreaming of the fight between Chimaev and champion Kamaru Usman. On paper, Chimaev could be the guy to dethrone the champion. Elite striking and elite wrestling in one package is really something that the champion hasn’t seen yet during his run.

I’m really excited to see Chimaev’s first bout of 2022. It’s likely going to be the Muhammad fight and you can imagine that all the guys at the top of the UFC’s welterweight division will be watching closely.

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