MMA fans were thrilled when it was announced that Khamzat Chimaev would face Paulo Costa in the co-main event at UFC 294. Unfortunately, the Brazilian contender underwent elbow surgery and was forced to pull out because he could not recover in time.
But former Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman stepped up on extremely short notice to rescue the fight. UFC President Dana White raised the stakes by announcing that the winner of this bout would challenge Sean Strickland for the middleweight championship.
— UFC (@ufc) October 11, 2023
Khamzat Chimaev last fought at UFC 279. ‘Borz’ was originally pitted against Nate Diaz but missed weight. The whole card was shuffled, and Chimaev found himself facing Kevin Holland in a 180 lbs catchweight bout. The menacing Swede beat the entertaining American via submission. Kamaru Usman enters this fight after back-to-back losses against Leon Edwards.
Kamaru Usman vs. Khamzat Chimaev stats
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Kamaru Usman vs Khamzat Chimaev prediction
Kamaru Usman throws fewer strikes; 4.46 with 52% accuracy. But he defends them better, absorbing only 2.75 strikes per minute thanks to his defense rate of 54%. The collegiate wrestling prodigy and former US Olympic team hopeful averages 2.96 takedowns per fight with 46% accuracy. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ has defended 97% of takedowns attempted so far.
Khamzat Chimaev lands an astonishing 7.30 strikes per minute with 60% accuracy. But conversely, he absorbs nearly 3.98 strikes a minute and defends only 41%. The multiple-time Swedish National Wrestling Champion scores nearly four takedowns per fight with 57% accuracy. Chimaev has never been taken down in his career and attempts a worrying 3.49 submissions per 15 minutes.
Khamzat Chimaev is relentless, ferocious, and always pressures his opponents while hunting for the finish. He is a fearsome threat both on the feet and on the ground, with knockouts and submissions under his belt. But his pace and aggression make him reckless and create chinks in his armor.
An elite and experienced fighter like Kamaru Usman will look to exploit that recklessness. If Chimaev makes a false move, the powerful Usman can put his lights out with one punch. But with a shot at the 185 lbs belt at stake, Chimaev will be alert to that fact.
Khamzat Chimaev will undoubtedly be the aggressor in this fight. Usman might bravely meet his threat, but his weak knees and inexperience in this weight class might hinder his conditioning. He might even be able to take Chimaev down and land some ground and pound.
There is a possibility that their expert wrestling will cancel each other out, and this will be mainly contested on the feet. But ultimately, the bigger man’s size, conditioning, and aggression will most probably be enough to beat the short-notice replacement convincingly. Khamzat Chimaev is expected to win against Kamaru Usman via Unanimous Decision.