Chael Sonnen has experience in getting the promotional push for the UFC and uses that past knowledge to determine what Khamzat Chimaev’s next move should be.
Chimaev – the No.10 ranked welterweight in the MMA Fighting World Rankings – continues to generate huge hype and excitement after his first round destruction of Li Jingliang at UFC 267. “Borz” has won all of his 10 fights professionals, including the end of all four of his appearances in the Octagon. With the win, fans and fantastic matchmakers are set to kick the 27-year-old into the top 10 and top five, even suggesting he should be the next current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Sonnen sees value in a future clash between Usman and Shimaev, but not at this time.
“If you mess up Shimaev and burn him too soon, what do you do then,” Sonnen asked during a video on his YouTube channel. “You send him back to where he is now, which is a potential competitor – except now you don’t have the same excitement or enthusiasm because you already put him on for the belt and he has. finished second? You have to be careful how you play it. Most guys, you got to take what you can get when you can get it. If you try to play this building game you are going to be broke and they are going to come out. It does not work.
“But Shimaev is one of those exceptions, so what do you do with him? If he’s good enough to get the belt straight away, how do you own the belt? He’s got a lot of needles to get around on the way to the top, and the current guy at the top is the No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world. Why am I going to burn one?
Other options people love for Chimaev include the most recent contender to challenge Usman for the title earlier this month at UFC 268, Colby Covington. Sonnen thinks the match makes sense, but understands why Covington wouldn’t go for a fight against a guy much lower in the standings, especially since many consider “Chaos” to be the second best 170 pounds in the world.
Reports have circulated over the past week that a fight between Chimaev and former title challenger Gilbert Burns is underway. Several people familiar with the promotion’s plans have confirmed to MMA Fighting that this is not the case at the moment, although the idea has generated some buzz on social media.
In Sonnen’s eyes, he doesn’t understand the excitement behind it and thinks the confrontation would do Burns a disservice.
“It’s not, Gilbert Burns,” Sonnen explained. “No [for] Gilbert Burns and Chimaev. If you hear this anywhere, just can’t stand it. Don’t get left behind. Don’t retweet it. Don’t publish it. Kill him. You owe it to Burns.
So, according to Sonnen, who should be the guy to step into the Octagon with one of the fastest rising stars in UFC history? The guy who’s been calling for the opportunity for over a year.
“Neil Magny should get this fight,” Sonnen said. “Magny should get this fight for a reason and it’s because he wants it. Other guys were allowed to say they would take it, but none of them said they wanted to – and I mean none. Neil Magny not only said he wanted it, he explained why he should get it. It’s a very different legend.
“Neil Magny had a good one. “Not only was I offered Shimaev, but I accepted it. This fight was dropped but I was the guy a year ago. I’m here right now, he says he wants a ranked guy, put me on, it’s very different. Neil should, in my opinion, should get the fight.