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Wonderboy: UFC pushing Khamzat Chimaev because they ‘need somebody from that market’

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The Chechen-born Chimaev emigrated to Sweden in 2011.

In case you’re wondering how a guy with just three fights inside the Octagon — who hasn’t faced anyone ranked in the Top 15 — can suddenly land the No. 3 fighter in the world, you’re not alone, as Stephen Thompson has also been scratching his head.

That’s probably why the former kickboxer was too busy calling out Leon Edwards to entertain a potential Khamzat Chimaev bout later this year, but in a strange twist of fate, the “Rocky” fight ended up going to “Borz” on Dec. 19 in Las Vegas.

“Rankings is becoming a non-existent thing, it’s about the exciting fights,” Thompson told Submission Radio. “I kind of called it. I was like, man, why are they pushing this Khamzat guy so hard. And then I was like, watch Khabib retire. And they kind of did the same thing with Till. When Bisping retired, they needed somebody from that market to keep those fans involved, and Till was it. And I guess the same thing with Khamzat. They knew that Khabib was gonna retire and they needed somebody from that market, and there you go. You’ve got this Khamzat guy who’s been doing work.”

Thompson (15-4-1) will also compete at the upcoming UFC Vegas 17 event on Dec. 19 in “Sin City” when he takes on streaking welterweight striker Geoff “Hands of Steel” Neal (13-2), who sits just outside the Top 10 at No. 11 after winning seven straight with six finishes.

If Chimaev (9-0) somehow demolishes Edwards (18-3) then expect the promotion to slot “Borz” into a 170-pound title shot at some point in early 2021, depending on when Gilbert Burns gets his chance to dethrone reigning division kingpin, Kamaru Usman.