Swedish standout Khamzat Chimaev believes he’s able to beat any opponent the UFC puts in his way. That mindset has led to great success thus far in his young MMA career – but it has also got him into some trouble recently.
In this day and age, expressing your confidence can easily be viewed as trash talk and taken out of context. Especially if it’s in the form of a brief comment on social media. As for Chimaev, he thinks that’s just what happened when he suddenly found himself in a public clash regarding former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“People think I hate him … I love him. Because he’s muslim, I’m muslim. He comes from some village like me, like same country, like same small republic, Chechnya and Dagestan are like the same. I have many brothers from Dagestan,” Khamzat Chimaev told Frontkick’s Johnathon Michael in the first episode of our new video series A Day With A Fighter, featuring Chimaev.
Khamzat Chimaev was born in Chechnya and grew up in a time of war, before moving to Sweden and subsequently Stockholm where he’s been training at Allstars Training Center for the last couple of years. Khabib Nurmagomedov, on the other hand, is from Dagestan – just like many of Chimaev’s friends and teammates.
Actually, Khamzat Chimaev has often been compared to Khabib Nurmagomedov and was even dubbed “Khabib 2.0” by his teammate Alexander Gustafsson as well as his former manager Ali Abdelaziz, right before he joined the UFC last year.
Also, Nurmagomedov has given Chimaev a lot of praise publicly as he started to crush his opponents on the world stage.
“When it came out, this stuff like ‘Khamzat wants to fight with Khabib’ something, my mom called me and said, ‘Why you want to fight with Khabib?’ I said, ‘I don’t want to fight with this guy’,” Chimaev explained.
“Nobody is gonna smash me, I’m gonna smash everybody. If you’re a real man, you have to think like that.”
So how did the beef start in the first place, you might be wondering. Well, it all began during an Instagram Live session where Khamzat Chimaev wrote a comment about Khabib Nurmagomedov that was immediately screenshot and later spread on Twitter as well as a variety of media outlets.
“We will smash him if he want,” Chimaev wrote about Nurmagomedov back in May.
Why did he say it though? According to Khamzat Chimaev himself, the comment was simply a response to someone else saying that Khabib Nurmagomedov would smash him.
“Some guy like wrote something bad about me, like ‘Khabib is gonna smash you’. I answered for this guy, but it was my wrong because I answer to some bullshit guy nobody knows. I answered for him like, ‘If he wants to smash me, I’m gonna smash him too’. Because I’m a man, a real man and I’m going to answer like that. If somebody say to you that he’ll smash you, what are you going to answer him?” Chimaev said.
“Nobody is gonna smash me, I’m gonna smash everybody,” he added while laughing. “If you’re a real man, you have to think like that.”
“I was watching him fight and I prayed for him. My mother also prayed for him.”
In the end of the day, Khamzat Chimaev has now made it clear that Khabib Nurmagomedov is someone that he respects and looks up to a lot. As he puts it himself, he believes Nurmagomedov is “one of the best fighters in the world” and he even used to pray for “The Eagle” to win his UFC fights.
“When he was fighting with Conor McGregor, I was a Brave CF fighter at the time, I was watching him fight and I prayed for him. My mother also prayed for him.”
Khamzat Chimaev is currently slated to take on No. 12 ranked welterweight contender Li Jingliang at UFC 267 on October 30th. The fight will be his fourth UFC bout and will also be his first fight in over a year, after battling through severe complications related to a covid infection.