Kamaru Usman, the former welterweight champion, experienced his third consecutive UFC defeat against the unbeaten Khamzat Chimaev at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
The highly anticipated middleweight bout took place at UFC 294, and Chimaev emerged victorious with a majority decision win over the Nigerian fighter.
Right from the start of the fight, Chimaev wasted no time in asserting his dominance. He aggressively pursued a single-leg takedown, and although Usman initially defended well, Chimaev’s persistence paid off as he successfully brought Usman to the ground.
Throughout the round, Chimaev showcased his control, spending a significant amount of time on Usman’s back and threatening with various submission attempts.
As the fight progressed into the second round, the pace noticeably slowed down. Chimaev opted to focus on striking rather than pressing the wrestling aspect of the bout, resulting in a slower kickboxing exchange. He did manage to secure a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the round, but didn’t capitalize on it significantly.
The third and final round presented an intriguing scenario. Usman began with a strong rally, displaying excellent distance control and landing solid punches.
However, Chimaev quickly shifted gears by changing levels and executing a well-timed double-leg takedown, halting Usman’s momentum. In the closing moments of the fight, Usman managed to work his way back to his feet, where both fighters made a final push to showcase their skills.
Despite Usman’s recent setbacks, it’s important to acknowledge his impressive track record as a welterweight champion, having successfully defended his title five times prior to these losses.
On the other hand, Chimaev was originally scheduled to face Paulo Costa in this bout, but due to an elbow injury, Costa withdrew, leading to Usman accepting the fight on just 10 days’ notice and having to adjust his weight accordingly.
With this victory over the former champion, Chimaev has undoubtedly positioned himself as a formidable contender in the UFC. Dana White, the president of the organization, recently expressed his belief that Chimaev is deserving of a shot at UFC gold in an interview on The Pat McAfee Show.
“That is an absolute fact,” White said. “The fact that these guys are taking this fight on short notice, (the winner) will get the next shot at the title barring injuries and other things that can possibly happen.”
The middleweight division has been thrown into a state of flux recently with the upset loss of Israel Adesanya to Sean Strickland. The Last Stylebender had been the dominant champion outside of a loss to Alex Pereira but the tides have shifted.