Khamzat Chimaev vs. Demian Maia anyone? That's the plan for Fight Island per Dana White, after he competes in the APEX pic.twitter.com/WbSTRB4RMV— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) September 4, 2020
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The article has been updated at 3:45 p.m. ET on Sept. 4 to reflect additional information.
Ultimate Fighting Championship wunderkind Khamzat Chimaev has not one but two fights potentially lined up.
On Friday, UFC President Dana White spoke at a press conference about upcoming matches for Sweden’s Chimaev (8-0). The rising star is expected to appear at UFC Fight Night 178 on Sept. 19 at the UFC Apex, now that the fighter has cleared his visa issues. According to Combate, Chimaev will be squaring off with Gerald Meerschaert (31-13) at middleweight, although the bout is still in the works.
“Yes,” White responded simply to a question about a September booking for Chimaev. “He’ll fight here [at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas] and he’ll fight in ‘Fight Island.’ Yeah, this guy wants to…I love that mentality.”
Meerschaert last competed in June, and Ian Heinisch handed "GM3" his second career knockout loss in 74 seconds. In his last five bouts, the Wisconsin native has alternated wins and losses, with split decision setbacks to Eryk Anders and Kevin Holland interspersed between submission victories over Trevin Giles and Deron Winn. Of note, the submission specialist fighting out of Roufusport was the first man to finish Winn as a professional. Throughout his career dating back to 2007, Meerschaert has recorded 23 submission wins -- or nearly three times as many tapouts as his opponent has in total bouts.
Chimaev attempted to compete again after his two quick victories inside the Octagon, but visa issues prohibited him from competing in the U.S. With those issues resolved, “Borz” is flying to Las Vegas on Monday, where he will begin final preparations for his camp for the Sept. 19 card. Meerschaert is not the only one that Chimaev is preparing for, however, as he is looking to move between divisions and get ranked at welterweight should he get past "GM3."
“We’re working on a fight for him here, it’s still being worked,” explained White. “But we’re talking about him and Demian Maia [on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates].”
Chimaev burst on to the scene with an unbeaten 6-0 record with six finishes within two rounds, and he has not disappointed in two trips to the Octagon in July. His promotional debut came against John Phillips at middleweight, and he wiped out the Welshman with a dominant first round and a brabo choke to seal the deal in the second. Ten days later, the Swede dropped down to his natural weight class of welterweight and took on the debuting Rhys McKee. Chimaev demolished the man from Northern Ireland in just over three minutes, and those two opponents landed exactly one significant strike combined in those bouts. However, those two men have won once across six UFC bouts.
The 42-year-old Maia suffered just his second career knockout defeat his last time out in March, when Gilbert Burns flattened him halfway through the opening frame of their marquee matchup. The defeated halted a three-fight win streak which saw the legendary Brazilian grappler tap out Lyman Good and Ben Askren, while taking a close majority verdict against the surging Anthony Rocco Martin. When Maia tapped Askren, he earned his 22nd win under the UFC banner, trailing only Donald Cerrone (23). The submission, his 11th in the UFC, placed him in the second spot behind Charles Oliveira (14).