Tomorrow’s UFC 294 pay-per-view event marks the opportunity for one undefeated star to return to the fold following a lengthy Octagon layoff.
Khamzat Chimaev, who currently sits at #4 in the welterweight rankings, hasn’t made the walk since September 2022. On that occasion, “Borz” submitted Kevin Holland in the first round after a weight miss led to an opponent change.
The Chechen-born UAE representative’s indiscretion on the scale has also seen him move up to middleweight for his next outing. And after the late withdrawal of Paulo Costa, Chimaev will share the cage with former 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman.
Given the late-notice nature of his trip to Abu Dhabi and the unblemished record that his opponent boasts, “The Nigerian Nightmare” will enter the cage on Saturday as the underdog for the first time since his 2019 crowning against Tyron Woodley.
Despite that, Chimaev has been warned not to underestimate his new opponent.
Cejudo Warns Chimaev: ‘Usman Is A Lot Smarter Than People Think’
During a video recently uploaded to his YouTube channel, former two-division UFC champ Henry Cejudo broke down the key attributes and possible holes that the pair have in their mixed martial arts arsenals.
In terms of Chimaev, “Triple C” noted that he’ll be preparing for a drastically different threat following Costa’s withdrawal and Usman’s call-up.
While that fact hasn’t stopped him vowing to “smash” his rival, as is always the case in a “Borz” fight week, Cejudo pointed out the magnitude of the task that awaits him inside the Etihad Arena.
“Khamzat Chimaev’s weaknesses. He has to adjust to a new opponent and style. Paulo Costa and Kamaru Usman fight completely different,” Cejudo said. “Kamaru Usman’s bringing not just the hands, but also the wrestling… Kamaru Usman is a lot smarter than what people think. This guy has six, seven title defenses, has beaten Colby (Covington) twice, has beaten the majority of people twice. He was literally lapping the division.”
Whether or not Chimaev is understating Usman’s skills and current condition leading into UFC 294 remains to be seen, but the Chechen-born UAE star has previously admitted to being too “cocky” ahead of and during his narrow victory over Gilbert Burns last April.
That’s a mistake he’ll no doubt want to avoid repeating against the Brazilian’s fellow Kill Cliff FC standout this weekend.
Not much respect between these two!
— UFC (@ufc) October 19, 2023
- Read Also: Khamzat Chimaev Skeptical Of Kamaru Usman Fight Being Branded A ‘Title Eliminator’ After Past UFC Promise
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