A year ago, Khamzat Chimaev was known to some as a promising prospect while others hadn’t even heard his name yet. Now, he’s already considered one of the biggest stars in MMA with an undefeated record, extremely dominant victories in the octagon and almost three million Instagram followers.
Many people believe Chimaev has what it takes to be a UFC champion and having covering him since the start of his professional career, it’s hard not to agree.
However, you have to wonder if the newfound fame and glory has changed Chimaev in any way. Frontkick.online had the great pleasure of catching up with him to discuss this and much more in a recent interview.
How does it make you feel to get so many new fans and followers over such a short period of time? To be considered the hottest MMA prospect in the world all of a sudden, with all the attention that comes with it? Is it hard to keep yourself grounded and stay humble at times?
“It still feels very new, but I always try to stay grounded. I always try to stay humble. When I’m fighting someone I’m not humble – then I just want to kill my opponent. But outside of the cage I try to keep myself grounded,” Khamzat Chimaev tells Frontkick before adding:
“I want to get rich. But it’s not just so that I can live a luxurious life, it’s so that I can help others to get a better life also. Help my mom, my family, my friends. That’s important for me.”
Khamzat Chimaev calls Alexander Gustafsson a ‘big inspiration’
Khamzat Chimaev’s teammate, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson, has always seen great potential in Chimaev. He even name-dropped him at a UFC press conference back in 2019, when asked about who he believed would be the next superstar out of Sweden.
According to Gustafsson, Chimaev is always the “hardest worker in the room” and in his eyes, it’s just a matter of time before Chimaev gets a hold of the UFC title.
“He’s hungry, he just wants to eat,” Gustafsson tells Frontkick.
How important has Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson been for you through your MMA journey?
“Alex is my brother. He’s bigger than anyone ever in Swedish MMA and a big inspiration for me. I’m very happy that I have him as my teammate and friend. He has helped me a lot,” Chimaev says.
What about “The Wolf Pack”? As you know, we started a video series on Frontkick inspired by your nickname “Borz”. The way we look at it, you’re the leader of the young wolves at Allstars. Everyone looks up to you. Do you think these guys, such as Bilal Tipsaev, Baysangur Makaev and Abdurahman Nasrutdinov, can manage to follow your footsteps and become big MMA stars themselves?
“Of course, if they continue to work hard they can go all the way. It’s all about pushing hard in training everyday and keep your focus on the goal.”
“If the UFC gives me fights I can win the belt this year”
In Sweden, Allstars Training Center has been subject to some criticism over the years from fans who believe Alexander Gustafsson should train elsewhere. However, Khamzat Chimaev’s success has proved a lot of people wrong.
You started your MMA journey at Allstars as just a wrestler and developed to where you are today with the help of that team and coach Andreas Michael’s leadership. How does it feel to prove the naysayers wrong?
“Sure, some people talk a lot, but you know how hard we work at the gym. That’s why I’m here today. I always listen to my coach and I give everything in training. People can talk but you see what we do and I have come this far thanks to the hard training.”
Chimaev also says he won’t slow down in training, ignoring concerns of possible overtraining after suffering serious health issues following his covid infection.
“No, I don’t change anything in my training. I just want to push hard everyday. My coach, my managers, everybody say ‘no, rest, rest, rest!’ But I can’t help it. I’m going into beast mode during my training in the same way as I do in my fights. That’s why I smash all my opponents.”
We know that you’re looking at a UFC comeback in August and that you’ve been looking to fight Neil Magny at welterweight. But you’ve also been talking about taking more fights in middleweight and even light heavyweight. Do you think you’d beat Jan Blachiwicz?
“I can dominate in every weight class. I’d smash Jan Blachiwicz, trust me.”
Final question, when will we see you win a UFC title?
“Only god knows. If the UFC gives me fights I can win the belt this year, or next year maybe. As I told everyone, I’m the Muhammad Ali of MMA. I smash everybody.”