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Former UFC champ says Khamzat Chimaev could be Israel Adesanya’s kryptonite

khamzat chimaev, israel adesanya
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A former UFC two-division champion believes that Khamzat Chimaev is the man with the talent to end the reign of middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

On Saturday night at UFC 271, 185-pound king Adesanya (22-1) successfully defended his title for the fifth time when he defeated former champion, Robert Whittaker (23-6) in the card’s main event. It was the second time “The Last Stylebender” defeated the man universally viewed as the next best MMA middleweight on the planet.

Adesanya is in the midst of lapping the division for a second time, and it seems like there is no real threat on the horizon to hand him his first loss in the division. However, former UFC flyweight and bantamweight titlist Henry Cejudo (16-2) believes there is one individual that could serve the champ a taste of humble pie. That being unbeaten and ranked welterweight star Chimaev (10-0).

Henry Cejudo thinks Khamzat Chimaev could beat Israel Adesanya ‘easily’

“The guy that will stop [Adesanya] is actually a [170] pounder, and his name is Khamzat Chimaev,” Cejudo said on his “The Triple C & Schmo Show” podcast Saturday [h/t MMAJunkie]. “I believe Chimaev is just a whole other animal, dude.

“His wrestling, his confidence. I mean, this dude — from what I’ve heard from a lot of people, this dude literally trains like nobody has ever seen before,” he explained. “When you’re a wrestler, and you’re like that, and he’s driven, I don’t think there’s nobody on the planet … I can see him easily beating Israel Adesanya.”

The lone loss on Adesanya’s record is a 2021 defeat to former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in the champion’s bid to score a second title in another division. Although there was a good deal of striking in the bout, the Polish star won a couple of key rounds by being able to take the Nigerian down and keep him grounded.

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Whittaker made his matchup inside the Toyota Center in Houston far closer than some expected by scoring four takedowns during his bout with Adesanya. Cejudo’s point certainly has some validity since many think wrestling is the best route to beat Adesanya. And as an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler who reached the heights of MMA using a takedown attack, his opinion holds merit.

Chimaev has been a wrestling wrecking machine through 10 professional fights — four in the UFC. “Borz” has been so dominant, that he has more wins in the Octagon than actual strikes landed on him by his UFC opponents. And even though he competes at welterweight currently, several of his wins — including two in the UFC — came in the middleweight division.

Chimaev last fought in October at UFC 267. Beating Li Jingliang by submission. He is expected to face top-three welterweight Gilbert Burns in his next Octagon appearance.

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