Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor played a major influence in Khamzat Chimaev’s life.
During an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto ahead of his UFC 273 fight with Gilbert Burns on April 9, Chimaev revealed that McGregor’s 13-second KO of longtime featherweight king Jose Aldo provided enough motivation for him to go all-in on mixed martial arts.
“I see the guy (McGregor) knock him out” McGregor said via Low Kick MMA. “I was thinking if that light guy did that s***, then why is it the end of it for me?
“Mentally, I’m stronger than him, my body’s bigger than him. I was feeling if, at that time, I just meet him outside, I can break him, you know. If he makes that money, why not me?”
Chimaev (10-0) took mixed martial arts by storm after making his UFC debut in July 2020. He’s rattled off four victories inside the Octagon, finishing two opponents at middleweight and welterweight. “Borz” has only been hit by one significant strike and is currently ranked No. 11 at 170 pounds, as per the promotion’s official rankings.
Burns Is the Best Fighter Chimaev Has Ever Taken On
Burns is by far the sturdiest opposition Chimaev has faced in the cage. The No. 2 welterweight and former title challenger is 7-1 in his last eight, which includes his most recent victory over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson last summer at UFC 264.
And “Durinho” has worked with welterweight king Kamaru Usman to prepare for his opponent, telling TMZ Sports in a recent interview.
“Usman came a couple of days to help out,” Burns said via MMA Mania. “He was helping me a couple of times, not training with me but kinda coaching. Kind of on the side giving a lot of advice in my last three or four sparrings. Very high IQ and very good advice. Was good to have him around.”
Although Usman beat Burns for the 170-pound title last year, Burns holds no ill will. And he still plans on becoming champion, whether he has to fight Usman again or another combatant.
“That’s Rocky and Apollo, Apollo beat Rocky and came out to help out so yeah that’s kind of like being in it,” Burns continued. “To be honest, I make peace with that. The guy beat me, for sure I want to become champion, but I’m not after Kamaru, I’m after the title, I want to become the champion, I want to become the best. I don’t have any beef, nothing personal, no grudge against Kamaru.”
The Featherweight & Bantamweight Titles Will Be Up for Grabs After Chimaev vs. Burns
UFC 273 goes down this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida, and the card features two championship clashes at the top of the bill. See the full fight card below (subject to change):
Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski vs Chan Sung Jung
Bantamweight Championship: Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
Welterweight: Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Women’s Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Tecia Torres
Middleweight: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Dricus Du Plessis
Heavweight: Ilir Latifi vs. Aleksei Oleinik
Women’s Bantamweight: Aspen Ladd vs. Raquel Pennington
Welterweight: Ian Garry vs. Darian Weeks
Middleweight: Anthony Hernandez vs. Josh Fremd
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Marcin Tybura
Early Preliminary Card
Welterweight: Mickey Gall vs. Mike Malott
Bantamweight: Julio Arce vs. Daniel Santos
Lightweight: Mark Madsen vs. Vinc Pichel
Women’s Strawweight: Kay Hansen vs. Piera Rodriguez