Alexander Gustafsson Sees Greatness in Khamzat Chimaev: ‘This Guy Has Too Much Focus’
Alexander Gustafsson believes that Allstars Training Center teammate Khamzat Chimaev has the potential to be a legend in the sport.
“[Khabib Nurmagomedov], [Georges St. Pierre], that’s the level of potential, 100 percent,” Gustafsson said in an interview with ESPN. “If he does all the things, if he does it right from the start, if he just keeps doing what he’s doing now, he will be one of those guys one day. I’m 100 percent sure of that....
“I met a lot of MMA athletes and fighters and all that, and he stands out for sure, because of his dedication, because of how he out-trains everybody. There’s nobody that trains like him, nobody. I haven’t seen it and I have been around the world, seen fighters train and having their camps and training for a fight. This guy just doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t feel any pain, he just goes through it.”
Chimaev rose to promimence thanks to a trio of dominant victories within the Las Vegas-based promotion in 2020, as he overwhelmed the likes of John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert. A battle with COVID-19 delayed his ascent, but Chimaev alleviated any concerns regarding his ability to bounce back when he submitted Jingliang Li in the opening round of their bout at UFC 267 this past October.
Expectations are once again sky high for Chimaev heading into 2022, and many anticipate taht the 27-year-old will contend for the UFC welterweight title by the end of the year. Gustafsson, for one, believes Chimaev could already do more than hold his own with reigning 170-pound champ Kamaru Usman.
“I think he’d put Kamaru Usman to sleep honestly,” Gustafsson said. “I think if he just touches his chin, it’s a big chance that Kamaru Usman goes to sleep. I like Kamaru Usman, he’s a great champ, and he’s just been breaking records and it’s a pleasure to see him fight because he’s very good, technical, I love his jab and his wrestling and you can see that he’s on top, Kamaru Usman, but I just can’t see him take Khamzat’s punches…
“His striking is very — he hits like a light heavyweight. He hits hard. He’s very explosive. He boxes very fast with his hands and with speed comes power and good precision. If you don’t keep your head, I’ve seen this guy knock people out with just a jab in training.”
If Chimaev’s career unfolds the way Gustafsson thinks it will, his star will only continue to grow. With that comes pressure, but the former UFC title challenger doesn’t think his teammate will succumb to the weight of expectations.
“It comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s not an easy task to make everyone happy, all the fans, everyone just wants to see him do his things. It comes with a lot of pressure and if you can’t handle it, it can make you fold,” Gustafsson said. “But this guy Khamzat, it’s like he doesn’t take it too personal or he just doesn’t understand what it is, he just keeps going with a smile.
“This guy has too much focus, too much tunnel vision to do anything else than just train, train his ass off, everyday.”
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