Khamzat Chimaev sees himself handling Gilbert Burns the same way he has every other opponent. Unbeaten in his pro MMA career, Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has finished all of his opposition, most recently choking out Li Jingliang in the first round at UFC 267 in October.
Although former title challenger Burns (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) would be a significant step up in competition, Chimaev envisions the same fate for him.
“All those numbers mean nothing,” Chimaev told RT Sport. “To be honest, I don’t see a real challenge in him. We’ll see. Everything may happen in a fight, but I’m confident, as usual. I think I will just smash him with my skills and power. I feel that way. He might feel different, but I will go there and do what I did the last time.”
With a win over Burns, Chimaev thinks the next step would be facing the winner of the UFC 272 main event between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, either as a No. 1 contender fight or potentially for an interim welterweight title.
“I think they will give us a great fight,” Chimaev said on Masvidal vs. Covington. “Masvidal is a slight favorite for me, but Colby is also a tough guy. He fights well. We’ll see. I think it’s 50-50. I don’t care which one of them wins. “
“I am fighting Burns now, then, after beating Burns, hopefully I will fight the winner of Masvidal-Covington because it seems like Usman has a hand injury and needs time to recover.
“I hope he will recover soon, so I am waiting for this guy, too. Looking forward to fighting him. But for now, I think the winner of my fight with Gilbert will fight the winner of Masvidal-Covington for the interim title or just for the No. 1 contender spot, and then Usman should come back, and we will fight him. This looks like a good plan to me.”
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is currently sidelined due to hand surgery but is expected to return by summer. UFC president Dana White declared Leon Edwards as the No. 1 contender, but Chimaev will look to stake his claim against Burns in a matchup that isn’t yet official but is being discussed for UFC 273 on April 9.
Chimaev says he’s currently in the process of renewing his U.S. visa, which expires at the end of March, and isn’t quite sure what the hold up is for his potential fight with Burns.