Khamzat Chimaev has been nothing short of sensational in his quick ascent to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) superstardom. Having seen the talent firsthand, Chimaev’s teammate in former Light Heavyweight title challenger, Alexander Gustafsson, isn’t surprised.
The 35-year-old Swede is set to make his second appearance at Heavyweight on May 21, 2022, against Ben Rothwell. While “The Mauler” still clearly believes he can hang inside the Octagon, he knows that the days in his prime are behind him.
When comparing himself to Chimaev, Gustafsson can’t help but be stunned.
“He’s a Welterweight, but hits like a Heavyweight, strong as a Heavyweight, fast like a Lightweight,” Gustafsson said on MMA Fighting’s The MMA Hour.
“He works harder than I ever worked. He’s doing five sessions a day, at least. In my prime, when I fought Jon [Jones] and those guys back in the day, I did three sessions a day, and I did, like, 20 rounds every sparring [session]. My conditioning was crazy. But this guy, he out-works me. He doesn’t get tired.”
Chimaev (10-0) made his UFC debut in July 2020 and has gone undefeated (4-0) since. Just from a glance, Chimaev’s streak is ultra-impressive. When further examined though, the fact that he’s out-struck his opponents 254 to two is simply unheard of and has the mixed martial arts (MMA) world anticipating a future championship reign.
Three of Chimaev’s four UFC victories have ended on the ground, but his lone knockout on the feet came in 17 seconds against 45-fight veteran, Gerald Meerschaert (watch highlights).
“I better keep my hands up,” Gustafsson said of sparring with Chimaev. “I’m not kidding. He hits hard. He has this thing that he’s fast, and he has very good precision, so he doesn’t need a lot of power to just knock people out because he knows what he’s aiming at, and he hits every time.
“I’ve play-sparred with a lot of guys, you’re just laughing and joking around and having a good time,” he concluded. “But, this guy, when he comes to spar, he comes to spar. It doesn’t matter if it’s me or another guy, he just goes.”