Khamzat Chimaev’s attempt to earn a title shot may have just gotten fast-tracked.
The Chechen wrestler has been angling for a high-profile fight since his dominant return opposite Li Jingliang back in October, and recent title challenger Gilbert Burns seemed like the perfect opponent. Nothing was ever officially signed, but early reports pointed to UFC pinning the match up on UFC 274 on May 7th in Brazil.
However, Combate’s Raphael Marinho has revealed a change of plans. So long as Chimaev’s US visa is approved, the Chimaev vs. Burns bout is now planned for UFC 273 on April 9, 2022 from a to-be-determined location. Part of the reason for the adjustment is the change of locations for UFC 274, which was initially planned for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Because unvaccinated fighters and UFC staff would have to quarantine for 14 days in Brazil, the promotion opted on hosting its event elsewhere.
As a consequence, it may be some time before UFC returns to Brazil.
At any rate, Chimaev is clearly one of the best prospects in the world. Undefeated at 10-0, “Borz” has utterly dominated all of his competition, winning four UFC fights without breaking a sweet and barely absorbing a strike in the process. He has all the makings of a future champion, and Chimaev has already been calling for a showdown vs. Kamaru Usman.
Of course, Burns is a different type of challenge. The jiu-jitsu master might just have the defensive grappling to prevent a smashing, and “Durinho” has major power in his punches and kicks to boot. Outside of his loss to Usman, Burns is unbeaten at 170 lbs., most recently shutting down Stephen Thompson in July 2021.
If all goes well with Chimaev’s visa, the Welterweight title picture could grow much clearer in April.