The first-year run of Khamzat Chimaev in UFC earns him Rookie of the Year
The “COVID Era” of the UFC that began this year saw more new faces appear on the scene and more opportunities for fighters to break through and establish their names. And out of everyone who made their first appearance(s) inside the Octagon in 2020, no one has arguably had a bigger impact than Khamzat Chimaev.
So, it should come as no surprise that he is the FanSided MMA choice for Rookie of the Year.
Khamzat Chimaev impresses in 2020 to earn FanSided MMA Rookie of the Year
After starting his professional MMA career on a 6-0 run, including a 4-0 record in Brave CF between 2018 and 2019, Chimaev made his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 1 on July 15, taking on John Phillips.
The fight was an absolute mauling on the ground by Chimaev, who used his expert wrestling to overwhelm and overpower Phillips. With Chimaev riding out Phillips for just about the entire fight, the latter was only able to throw just three strikes in the entire fight — landing just two, and only one being deemed significant by UFCStats. Chimaev submitted Phillips with a D’Arce choke in the second round, earning him a performance bonus.
And just when you think Chimaev had impressed, he then says he wants to fight again — almost immediately. And 10 days later, he was back in the cage against Rhys McKee at UFC Fight Island 3. And in just about three minutes, Chimaev finished him and earned another post-fight bonus, setting a new UFC record for quickest turnaround between UFC victories.
After that, Chimaev’s name exploded. Suddenly, the questions were how far Chimaev would go in the UFC — and he had barely been there a couple of months. It got to the point where even Chimaev vs. Conor McGregor was considered for down the line — that crazy.
And the UFC was all about the fast-tracking of Chimaev, double-booking him against Gerald Meerscheart and Demian Maia. While only the former fight played out in September, it ended with Chimaev scoring a knockout with one punch in 17 seconds.
Now ranked No. 15 in the UFC’s welterweight division, Chimaev was scheduled to face off with No. 3-ranked Leon Edwards at UFC Fight Island 8. The two were originally set to meet in late December but the bout had to be postponed after Edwards tested positive for COVID-19. Now, what’s next for Chimaev is unknown with recent reports that the fight was been scrapped again as of the morning of Dec. 29.
If Chimaev can still have another big contender matchup to start his 2021 season, a win will more than likely extend Chimaev’s fast track — and maybe land him a title shot against Kamaru Usman by the end of 2021 or early in 2022.