Fight Island? How about Chimaev Island?
Khamzat Chimaev, the hottest new prospect in the UFC, absolutely ran through Rhys McKee via TKO at 3 minutes, 9 seconds of the first round on the UFC Fight Night main card Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The UFC has dubbed Yas Island, where all its July events are being held, as “Fight Island.” And Chimaev has been the biggest breakout performer of the month for the promotion.
Saturday’s win was Chimaev’s second in 11 days, the quickest turnaround victory in UFC history. The Swedish supernova beat John Phillips via second-round submission on the July 15 card. Chimaev, 26, is one of just two UFC fighters who are 2-0 with two stoppage victories since events resumed May 9 after the coronavirus shutdown.
“I want to do more,” Chimaev said. “It was too easy for me. … I didn’t feel like I [fought], it was one second. But I need this. I want to fight.”
Chimaev went on to say, “Fighting is fighting. I do sparring every day. This is like sparring for me. History is history, what can I say?”
In just two-plus weeks, Chimaev (8-0) has emerged as one of the top up-and-coming stars on the entire UFC roster. Nicknamed “the Wolf,” he trains out of AllStars Training Center in Stockholm with the likes of former UFC title challenger Alexander Gustafsson. Chimaev’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has compared the emerging fighter to current MMA pound-for-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov, referring to him as “Khabib 2.0.”
To start the fight against McKee, Chimaev ran across the cage, picked his opponent up as though he were a small child and easily took him down. He then got into top control and rained down strikes until referee Rich Mitchell pulled him off. Just like his fight against Phillips, it was total domination.
Chimaev outstruck McKee 40-0 in significant strikes and 68-0 in total strikes, per ESPN Stats & Information data. McKee didn’t even attempt a strike.
Chimaev is only the second fighter in the UFC modern era to land at least 100 total strikes and absorb two or fewer in his first two fights; he has landed 192 and absorbed just two. Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is the other man to do it, with 141 landed strikes and two absorbed after two UFC bouts.
Chimaev’s 40 significant strikes against McKee is the most in the UFC modern era against an opponent who did not attempt a strike.
After beating Phillips on July 15, Chimaev told UFC president Dana White that he wanted to stay on Fight Island and compete again. White got him a fight for this event. Chimaev told analyst Dan Hardy on Saturday in his postfight interview that he’d be willing to fight again later on the card.
Hardy asked what the limit was to his potential. Chimaev said there was none and that he’s ready for the UFC belt.
“It doesn’t matter,” Chimaev said. “I can smash everybody. How many fighters in the welterweight division? I can smash all of them.”
McKee, a 24-year-old from Northern Ireland, was making his UFC debut. He saw a three-fight winning streak snapped.