UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya thinks Khamzat Chimaev has looked impressive so far, but it’s none of his concern.
Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) takes on his sternest test to date in former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns (20-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) on Saturday at UFC 273, but Chimaev hasn’t been eyeing only 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman.
Chimaev has been warning Adesanya (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC), too, but Adesanya isn’t ready to consider him a potential title challenger until he’s fought worthy competition at 185 pounds.
“When the dog barks at the moon, that’s normal,” Adesanya said on Wednesday’s episode of “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson.” “But when the moon barks at the dog, that’s something special, so I was like, ‘All right. This guy fights at welterweight. He’s fought at middleweight one time, and he’s fought like a low-ranked guy and definitely he can beat some middleweights.’ But I’m like, ‘Show me something.’
“Show me something like he’s never – his last fight was impressive, and I said I might not like you but if I’m impressed by what you do, I’ll give you props. He’s a beast, but he’s a beast at 170.”
In 10 professional wins, Chimaev has competed at middleweight four times. Two of his wins in the octagon were middleweight bouts, a beatdown of John Phillips in his UFC debut and a 17-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert.
Chimaev’s most recent bout, which Adesanya mentioned, took place last Oct. 31 at UFC 267 where he choked out Li Jingliang 3:16 into the first round.
UFC 273 takes place Saturday at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.