Khamzat Chimaev says it’ll be easier to smash ‘zero wrestling’ Israel Adesanya than Kamaru Usman: ‘I’ll squeeze his head off’


Khamzat Chimaev has fierce challenges ahead of him as he begins to face the elite of the welterweight division, but he hasn’t abandoned plans to capture gold at 185 pounds either.

The UFC’s star sees a much easier route to winning the title in the heavier weight classes simply due to Israel Adesanya, the UFC Middleweight Champion.

“Izzy: I believe it will be easier for me to crush that guy [than Kamaru Usman],” Chimaev stated Wednesday during a double appearance on The MMA Hour . “He has zero wrestling. He took his back on the guy he had to fight last time. If I take his back, brother, I’ll squeeze his head off. His head will be mine. Easy money .”

A decorated striker with one of the sport’s best kickboxing pedigrees, Adesanya is a perfect 11-0 at 185 pounds in the UFC — the second longest winning streak in UFC middleweight history — and has defended his belt four times. His latest title defense came in a nail-biter of a decision in his long-awaited rematch against Robert Whittaker at UFC 271.

Chimaev has won both of his octagon appearances at 185 pounds in devastating fashion, including a 17-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020. However, for now, plenty of unfinished business still awaits the Chechen-born fighter at 170 pounds, as Chimaev is scheduled to meet one-time title challenger Gilbert Burns in a high-stakes welterweight matchup on April 9 at UFC 273.

Burns revealed to MMA Fighting’s Portuguese language podcast Trocacao Franka that he had hired two Russian wrestling professionals to prepare him for Chimaev. Both of them asked to remain anonymous. It’s safe to say that Chimaev found the news hilarious.

“He said that he thought they would wrestle. “He’s stressed. Now he has big drama in his head [that] he thinks about. When you listen to him, you understand — the guy is done. “I have two Russian wrestlers .’

,” he said.

“How can ****** wrestle in just two, three or four months? Never. In his dreams, he can’t take me down. He knows that. The guys that have been in my gym — like some guys that [also] train there with him, they’ve been in my gym — I don’t know what they told him, but I beat them all and he knows about that. He’s scared.”

The Burns matchup, by far, represents the biggest step up in competition the undefeated Chimaev has faced in his career. Burns currently holds the No. 1 spot in MMA Fighting. 4 ranked welterweight in the world and is slotted at No. 2 on the UFC’s own rankings.

For the No. 10 ranked Chimaev, that means a win over Burns should only lead to one thing.

” I think that I must fight for the title,” Chimaev stated. Chimaev said, “Who’s the next guy?” Ten fights, 10 finishes. After [the Burns fight], 11 fights, 11 finishes. And what are they going to say? The guy is No. 2 in the rankings. They now talk about “Oh, you didn’t fight anybody in the rankings.” Now, they say, “Now, if this guy beats me — No. 2 — what are you going to say?”

Chimaev on Wednesday reiterated his ambitious plans of capturing the UFC welterweight title, then moving up and repeating the feat at 185 pounds, then even taking a hard look at the 205-pound belt as the cherry atop his championship sundae. He acknowledged that he still has plenty of work to do to get to that point, but he’s also confident in his chances.

“I feel [like] I could kill everybody, brother,” Chimaev said. Brother, I am the best. I am the best.”