UFC Fight Island 1 on Wednesday was a coming out party for several new UFC talents. Among them, Khamzat Chimaev, who trains alongside the likes of Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi at All Stars MMA in Sweden.
Chimaev made a big impression in his octagon debut, putting away John Phillips thanks to a D’Arce choke. The submission earned Chimaev a Performance of the Night bonus. And more than likely, a bunch of new fans.
Speaking to Cageside Press in a virtual post-fight press scrum, Cimaev said that “it was amazing, being in the UFC.” And in comments that bring about immediate comparisons to Khabib Nurmagomedov, he added that he’d told his coaches “I’m going to smash somebody with these gloves in the UFC. I was happy to be here and smash somebody.”
Big Khabib? The middleweight certainly has a similar mindset to the UFC lightweight champion.
“I want to finish everybody. If it does go to five rounds, I’m going to stay to finish him last second.” He loves it when opponents give up, when they break, Chimaev added. Forget the Kamaru Usman plan to drag opponents into deep water and break them slowly. Khamzat Chimaev just wants to end the fight, period.
He credits much of his success to All Stars MMA, having made it to the UFC just a few years after joining the team. “I love my gym. [They’re] my family. I live in the gym,” he said.
As to what comes next, Chimaev took his shot, although it was a bit of a weird one. As he did in his post-fight interview with the UFC, Khamzat threw out a legendary name.
“Doesn’t matter. Smash somebody,” he said, before selecting his target. “I want to fight Donald Cerrone, it’s not my division but at 77 kilos [welterweight]. I want to fight the best. Top 15. Donald Cerrone is going to be a good fight. Good name. One that everybody talks about.”
Like Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And do be fair, Cerrone has fought as a welterweight, including in his most recent bout, a loss against Anthony Pettis. Still, it’s hard to see this one happening.
Watch the full UFC Fight Island 1 virtual post-fight press scrum with Khamzat Chimaev above.