Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman faced his third consecutive loss in the UFC against undefeated Khamzat Chimaev in a middleweight showdown at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi last Saturday.
Chimaev improved his undefeated record to 13-0 with a majority decision victory over the Nigerian fighter at UFC 294. The match started quickly with Chimaev’s determined pursuit of a single leg takedown. Despite Usman’s initial resistance, Chimaev’s persistence paid off and he brought Nigeria’s nightmare to the mat. He dominated the round, spending most of it on Usman’s back and threatening with submission attempts.
The pace slowed in the second round, with Chimaev opting for striking rather than wrestling. He got a takedown with just 30 seconds left in the round, but couldn’t make much of it.
The third and final round brought an interesting change in momentum. Usman got off to a strong start, controlling his distance and landing solid boxing blows. But his efforts stopped when Chimaev landed a well-timed double leg takedown. Usman managed to recover in the final 30 seconds and both fighters made one last effort to secure the victory.
Usman is currently on a three-fight losing streak, with two losses to Leon Edwards. Prior to this, he had successfully defended his welterweight title in five consecutive fights.
Chimaev was originally scheduled to face Paulo Costa, but an elbow injury forced Costa to withdraw. Usman took his place on short notice and had to adapt to the weight class in a short period of time.
With the win over the former champion, Chimaev is now in a strong position to contend for the UFC title. Dana White acknowledged this in an interview, emphasizing that barring any unforeseen circumstances, the winner of this match will likely get another shot at the title.
The middleweight division recently saw upheaval with Israel Adesanya’s upset loss to Sean Strickland, which completely changed the landscape of the division. Strickland now faces a new challenge in Chimaev, which promises an exciting and uncertain future for the division.