Khamzat Chimaev says comparisons with undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov don’t faze him after he created history at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The Chechnya-born prospect lived up to his billing at UFC Fight Night 3 at Flash Forum by completely dominating newcomer Rhys McKee to secure a second win in the promotion only 10 days after his first. It marked the quickest turnaround between victories in UFC history.
Chimes, 26, had debuted at Fight Night 1 on July 15, where he defeated veteran John Phillips by second-round TKO at middleweight. He returned to the same venue in the early hours of Sunday morning, this time at welterweight, to see off McKee with another TKO. It was even earlier than his first, coming at 3 minutes nine seconds into the opening round.
Chimaev, who moves to 8-0 in professional mixed martial arts, has been given the moniker “Khabib 3.0” by his manager.
Asked about comparisons with the unbeaten Dagestani, Chimaev said: “It doesn’t matter for me. I like this guy; I think he’s pound-for-pound No 1, [with] 28 wins. But soon I’m going to be the pound-for-pound No 1, I’m going to be champion. I have eight fights, eight finishes. I destroyed everybody. I’m going to do this next fight also.”
It took Chimaev less than 20 seconds to take McKee to the ground, before he pounded the Northern Irishman from there until the finish. Chimaev rained down punches until the referee called a stop to proceedings, in the process cementing his place as the most exciting up-and-comer in the sport.
On whether he’s finding his move up to the UFC easy, Chimaev said: “Of course it’s easy for me. I’m born in this country, everybody knows about Chechnya. I like to fight in the cage and smash somebody, too easy. Smash somebody and get money - it’s perfect for me.
“I feel amazing, like I said 10 days before. I am so happy to be here, to make some history. If they have some history just tell me and I’m going to take this.”
Chimaev has already stated his ambitions of becoming a two-division world champion.
The best of UFC Fight Night 3 in pictures
“Yes, of course, why not?” he said. “I’m ready, I’m born for that; my life is to be champion.
“For me it doesn’t matter [how quickly I become champion]. I don’t know, but I want to take this belt in one or two years.
"As soon as possible I’m going to take this. I know it’s not like the movies, like Rocky Balboa, that in one or two fights I’m going to get the title shot. But I’m going to take this soon.”
Chimaev had previously called out Donald Cerrone, who was defeated in January within 40 seconds by Conor McGregor before then losing also to Anthony Pettis in May.
On Sunday, Chimaev doubled down that he would take out Cerrone in one or two rounds, saying “I know this guy’s not on my level. It’s easy money for me”.
“I don’t think somebody’s going to be a problem for me,” he added. “I’m going to beat everybody, like I did today. I promise you guys.”
Having fought twice at the inaugural Fight Island, Chimaev confirmed he would seek to do so again should the UFC return in September as expected. He said he would have to check with his coach and team, but that he would first like to spend time with his mother in Sweden, whom he hasn’t seen in five months. Chimaev resides in Stockholm.
Chimaev was later one of six fighters to receive a Performance of the Night bonus - just like he did on July 15 - but conceded he hadn’t yet decided what to do with the winnings.
“I don’t know what I can do … to help somebody,” he said. “I do this not only for me. I do this for everybody I can help. I don’t want to be like [Floyd] Mayweather [Jr], like McGregor and be one guy to show my money. I want to help the people.”
Quizzed about what he considered to be a weakness in his game, Chimaev said: “Nothing. I didn’t show my boxing. I have very good boxing. Maybe you see my knockouts. When I first fight I did only striking.
"Sometimes my coach says take him down and smash him. I have to do this. I listen to my coach. If my coach tells me to knock him out, I knock him out.
“I’m going to finish everybody. I always look for a finish. Smash somebody; knock them out. Like I did all my fights."