UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman thinks Khamzat Chimaev was a victim of his own hype at UFC 273, which is why the undefeated Chechnan ran into unexpected trouble against Gilbert Burns after failing to put ‘Durinho’ away as he did his four previous UFC opponents.
Chimaev won the fight, of course, but, with a few minor tweaks, Usman thinks Burns could have snagged the victory.
“It was a very, very good fight,” Usman, whose next title defense is expected to be against Leon Edwards, told TMZ in a recent interview (h/t MMA Fighting). “I think both guys came prepared the best that they could, and the fight showed that. I think a lot of people were disrespecting Gilbert Burns, because you get a kid like this that comes in and has all this hype and everyone talking about him, it’s just great — it’s great for the sport, it’s great for guys like myself.”
“[But the hype] was very disrespectful to a guy like Gilbert Burns, who has put in the years, who has put in the time, has fought all these guys to get up here at the top of this division, and now you’re just kind of dismissing him,” he added. “And to be honest with you, I think just minor tweaks from Gilbert Burns, I think that fight was definitely very, very winnable — and I think he knows that now.”
Usman (20-1 MMA, 16-0 UFC) is excited about a potential matchup versus Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) but warned ‘Borz’ not to come into the fight with the same attitude he did prior to UFC 273.
“And Khamzat coming in, he’s definitely showed — he’s done a great job,” Usman said. “Props to the kid, he’s done a great job with what he’s been presented and the opposition. I take nothing away from him. I think if I had a word of advice for him, it’s just to not get caught up in [the hype], because it kind of seemed like that was starting to happen.”
“He’s gone out there and he’s beat the No. 2 guy in the division. He got the ‘W’, so it’s very difficult for me to say, ‘No, he doesn’t deserve anything.’ No, he went up there, he’s gone up against Gilbert Burns and he was able to go out there and do what he needed to do, so I take nothing away from him. If that’s the fight then that’s the fight. If that’s not the fight, then that’s not the fight.”
Usman will return to the Octagon to defend his welterweight title against No. 2-ranked Edwards at a TBA UFC event this summer while Chimaev is already hyping a No. 1 contender’s bout with Colby Covington.