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Midnight Mania! Stephen Thompson believes Khamzat Chimaev push is ‘a slap in the face’ to established Welterweights

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UFC Fight Night: Covington v Woodley Photo by Todd Lussier/Zuffa LLC

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Khamzat Chimaev is one of the brightest new stars of 2020, as a dominant 3-0 push in a very short period of time significantly raised his status. The hype train is in full swing, as he’s now a ranked Welterweight booked in a main event opposite surging contender Leon Edwards on January 20.

Stephen Thompson doesn’t buy into all the excitement. In fact, the former title challenger — not far removed from his own main event slot against Geoff Neal on December 19 — feels the whole thing is an insult to established contenders who fought tooth-and-nail to climb up the Welterweight ladder.

“I think he was ranked No. 15, which doesn’t make sense to me,” Thompson told MMA Junkie. “I know he’s had one fight in the welterweight division, and his opponent (Rhys McKee) is 0-2 right now and normally a lightweight, a 155er, so it just doesn’t make sense how this guy can jump past everybody who’s worked their behinds off to get to where they’re at, and now he’s ranked No. 15 fighting the No. 3 guy, I believe. It’s just ridiculous to me.

“I had to fight through murderer’s row to get to where I’m at and so did Leon Edwards. He was on a (eight-fight) winning streak to get to where he’s at. I had to fight a slew of guys, I mean tough opponents. Robert Whittaker, Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald, Johny Hendricks to get to where I’m at, and then this guy just jumps past everybody. I think it’s a slap in the face to everybody who’s worked their butts off.”

Despite the gap in previous Welterweight accomplishments between Chimaev and Edwards, Thompson is uncharacteristically pessimistic about how the title picture will shake out.

“For Leon Edwards, I don’t think it does anything,” Thompson said. “I think it’s a lose-lose for him. Even though Khamzat’s got a lot of hype around him, a good win, where does that put him? It doesn’t move him up any rank, maybe a title fight, which I think he deserves anyway. So, yeah, the welterweight division is a little crazy at this point.

“Guaranteed he’s probably gonna get a title shot if he beats Leon Edwards, and I kinda called this,” Thompson said. “I was wondering why they were pushing Khamzat so hard, and I was like watch Khabib retire, because they’re from the same neck of the woods, they got to please that market, so it kinda makes sense why they’re pushing him so hard.”

We’ll have to wait and see if Thompson’s prediction is proven true either way ... or if COVID rears its ugly head once again to disrupt the match up.

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Midnight Music: By the time this articles runs, I will likely have cornered my team mate, Australia’s Isaac Thomson. The kid is a stud, making his pro debut in Mexico at the age of 18! Give him a follow, watch the bout on UFC Fight Pass, and check it out his walkout song:

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Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.