The game that goes under the radar at UFC 267 is without a doubt the second fight on the main map at No. 11 Li Jingliang take a return and confident Khamzat Shimaev. Both men have big things to prove, for Li he has a chance to break into the top ten and become a face of the Chinese MMA scene alongside. Zhang Weili, for Chimaev, he has a chance to earn a ranking by beating a top guy who has a lot of respect in the MMA community.
Earlier this year, Khamzat Chimaev was diagnosed with COVID-19, and despite being a young and healthy adult, he had a very serious case and a long, hard battle with the virus. So much so that Chimaev had decided to retire despite going 3-0 in the UFC with three impressive finishes in just two months. This report was however quickly challenged by the two UFC presidents, Dana White and Chechen dictator, Ramzan kadyrov.
Kadyrov, never one to stay on the sidelines of a good MMA story involving a Chechen or Russian fighter, spoke out saying he called Chimaev and telling him that “all Chechens were saddened by the news…”, he decided he would return after the hard battle against COVID. Upon his return, fans were indeed excited and thoughts of pairing were all over the place, they finally landed who he will face tomorrow at UFC 267 in Li Jingliang.
Lin Jingliang just won impressive one-punch knockout against former welterweight promotional idol Santiago ponzinibio. He’s won four of his last five games, including three impressive knockouts. He had his ups and downs in the UFC with an 11-4 record on his debut in the promotion. UFC 173, a fight which he kicked off the entire map and which ended with the famous TJ Dillashaw and Renan barao fight that started Dillashaw’s fame. With a victory here against Chimaev, Li could see himself taking a similar leap through the ranks with the Chinese market’s backing of MMA being his rocket fuel.
The keys to the fight for Khamzat Chimaev
Tell me if you’ve ever heard a Russian fighter described this way, tough, versatile, confident on the pitch and on the feet, and the strength of the Hulk Hogan of the 1980s.
Khamzat Chimaev is the latest in what is emerging as a long line of MMA fighters from Russia and the surrounding area who have full games and crush fighters from all over Earth. Last year on Fight Island, he demonstrated his ability to dictate where the fight goes and when it ends if he wants to. It was one of the most impressive two-month stretches in company history and at that point he demonstrated full play that should scare everyone in the 170-pound division.
Against Li, he’ll likely look to get this to the ground quickly where Li isn’t bad but he certainly doesn’t have the wrestling skills that Chimaev has. Chimaev can wear it down a turn or two and work the angles of the ground and the pound to achieve a finish or one-sided reading of the dashboard. This is where Khamzat Chimaev shone the most and with a performance similar to what we’ve seen so far, he will emerge a star for promotion.
The keys to the fight for Li Jingliang
It’s simple for Li Jingliang, stick with the date that brought you to dance and for him it’s his crisp boxing ability. He showed he has immense power in his right hand by knocking out seven of his 11 UFC wins through this skill set.
Li Jingliang has power in both hands, extreme power in his right hand in particular, and that, coupled with his footwork and head movements, makes him a serious threat as long as the fight is on. Now Chimaev will most likely shoot for a takedown in the first 15 seconds and he has to defend it, if he gets a takedown as soon as the tear is broken then the whole fight will be over just as quickly. Once Chimaev takes you down, he won’t let you back down and he will unleash a hail of fists with a high yield of soil and pound.
To Li’s advantage, however, the fight begins at the feet, he just has to keep it there. If he’s pulled out, all he has to do is survive and get back on his feet or block Shimaev’s ground play until he can get back on his feet. Chimaev has had a severe COVID crisis and we’ve seen UFC fighters go up and down in terms of production in fights after battling the virus, so the longer the fight goes on, the more it may benefit him.
This fight will either win the fight of the night or the winner will have a performance bonus one way or another, tune in early for UFC 267 as this fight is not to be missed and most under- estimated on the main map as well.
Embed from Getty Images