Khamzat Chimaev is currently on his way to the welterweight throne, and with the victory over Gilbert Burns, he will be on the verge of attacking the title. His focus is currently on that category, but it is no secret that Chimaev is also shooting at the top of the middle category.
Israel Adesanya is the dominant champion of this category. He defended the belt four times, and top category fighters like Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori, he won twice. Paulo Costa and Derek Brunson as fourth-ranked challengers also lost to Adesanya, and Izzy is getting closer to a literal clean-up of the category.
Sean Strickland and Jared Cannonier are left of his top 5 challengers he hasn’t battled so far, and it’s Cannonier who’s next in line. These are fighters that many still see as big outsiders against Adesanya.
Alex Pereira as Izzy’s executioner from the kickboxing day, fighting Strickland will try to jump a few steps and he could be an interesting candidate who could endanger Izzy. Still, many see Chimaev as the most serious threat.
Khamzat’s wrestling and fighting style are something that potentially carries big problems for Adesanya who prefers standing fighting. Chimaev possesses the physical strength and greatness to deal with a champion and many are looking forward to Khamzat’s fights in the middleweight division.
Chimaev and Adesanya
Of course, there are certain "evil tongues" who claim that Adesanya is afraid of Chimaev because he often skipped the topic or gave very brief reviews. At yesterday's press conference, Chimaev actually praised Adesanya and his character.
'' People want to watch me and Adesanya. No one knows about Usman. He is old. Izzy is fresher, young like me and I think he wants a match against me because he has already fought with everyone in the middleweight division. He is like me, he wants to fight with everyone, and so am I.
" It is really unclear how anyone can conclude that Adesanya is afraid of someone, when it comes to a fighter who has over 100 professional matches behind him if we add up the fights from kickboxing, boxing and MMA. During a guest appearance on Mike Tyson's Hotboxin podcast, Izzy gave a slightly more detailed look at Chimaev.
'' This guy is fighting in the welterweight division. He once fought in the middleweight division (twice under the auspices of the UFC, op.a.) and that was against the low-ranking guy. He can definitely beat some middleweight fighters, but I want him to prove it to me.
His last performance was impressive. Then I said I might not like him, but if I’m impressed with what you’re doing, I’ll give you respect. Yes, he is a beast, but the beast is in the welterweight category. "