He’s back! After contracting COVID-19, contemplating retirement, and a year-long layoff, Khamzat Chimaev reenters the octagon. 9-0 professionally, and 3-0 in the UFC, Chimaev has finished all of his fights inside of two rounds.
His opponent, #11 ranked welterweight in the UFC, Li Jingliang is 33-years-old and 18-6 professionally. He has nine knockouts, four submissions, and five decision wins. “The Leech” has only been finished once, by submission, in his career.
This weekend’s UFC 267 fight card is a special non-pay-per-view numbered event and that means
Chimaev vs. Jingliang Betting Odds
Chimaev, despite being unranked and it being only his fourth UFC fight, is the second-biggest favorite on the card.
- Chimaev: -570
- Jingliang: +395
Chimaev vs. Jingliang Breakdown
To say Chimaev has excelled in his first three UFC fights is an understatement. The 27-year-old has three finishes and has only absorbed two strikes. That is two strikes total in three fights. While his size, defense, and movement do make him difficult to hit, the reason for his record-holding two strikes absorbed in three fights is mainly because of his offensive dominance. Chimaev is an elite wrestler, a long and powerful striker, and hunts the finish like a bloodhound.
In his debut, we saw Chimaev outwrestle, with technique and strength, a middleweight. Once Chimaev finished the takedown, he, in his words, smashed. In his sophomore effort, we saw Chimaev’s welterweight debut where he literally picked up his opponent, walked him across the octagon, and threw him down. Then, again, smashed. Finally, against a seasoned UFC veteran who has only been knocked out three times in 47 professional fights, we saw Chimaev land one clean right hand and knockout his opponent. Chimaev isn’t just a highlight reel, he is a real deal fighter. His size, pressure, wrestling, strength, and tactical violence makes me believe he is a future title challenger.
Jingliang is no slouch himself when it comes to violence. A powerful striker, when Jingliang lets his hands go, he often finishes fights. Further, Jingliang is adept at avoiding the big strike as he looks for his own. He has a positive strike differential and has never been knocked out. In a kickboxing match, Jingliang is a long and rangy striker who lands effectively from range where he can keep his opponent on the end of his punches and kicks. His key to the upset Saturday will include him holding that range, likely through using his frequent and snapping leg kicks. Additionally, Jingliang will need to shore up his takedown defense, currently sitting at 59%. If he can do both of these, he can turn the tide, show Chimaev a new look, and possibly cash as an underdog.
Chimaev vs. Jingliang Prediction
While Jingliang is no can for Chimaev to crush, or smash, I don’t see him winning this fight outside of landing one big shot. True, we haven’t seen Chimaev face adversity yet but that’s because of how special he really is. I anticipate his unmatched strike differential to only grow as Chimaev will likely shoot early, land the takedown, and then finish the fight. He really is that good.
Prediction: Chimaev inside the distance
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.