Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman stepped up and accepted the fight with Chimaev on 12 days notice. UFC President Dana White announced that the winner would get a title fight against champion Sean Strickland, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher.
Chimaev worked to get a takedown early in the opening round. Usman tried to stand. Chimaev took Usman’s back and delivered left hands. Usman made his way to his feet but Chimaev remained on his back. Chimaev locked on a rear-naked choke and Usman slammed him to the canvas to escape the attempted choke. Chimaev remained on Usman’s back until the end of the frame.
The second round started slow with the first strike thrown forty seconds in. Usman connected with a right hand. The fight remained standing until 44 seconds left in the round. Chimaev put Usman on his back and that’s how the round ended.
Chimaev immediately tried to get the fight to the ground to start the third frame. Usman moved out of the way and stayed on his feet. Usman stepped in with a right hand. Chimaev connected with a jab. Usman landed combinations. Chimaev dove forward for legs and secured a takedown midway through the frame. Chimaev delivered short punches to the body. Usman scrambled to his feet with 30 seconds left. They slug it out til the end of the round.
The judges scored the fight for Chimaev by majority decision. The scorecards read 29-27-29-27, and 28-28.