LAS VEGAS — Duke Roufus shouldn’t be solely one of many elite MMA coaches on the planet, he’s additionally one of the crucial easygoing guys you’re more likely to meet.
It takes so much to rile him up.
However Roufus’ voice takes a pointy flip when he’s requested if the truth that the UFC booked two fights for Khamzat Chimaev — at middleweight on Saturday (eight p.m. ET, ESPN+) in opposition to Roufus fighter Gerald Meerschaert and in November at welterweight in opposition to Demian Maia — is disrespectful to Meerschaert.
“Completely, 100 p.c it’s,” Roufus advised Yahoo Sports activities. “There’s no different method to have a look at it.”
Meerschaert mentioned a lot the identical factor to ESPN, telling reporter Ariel Helwani, “He’s going to want at the very least six months to get better from what I’m going to do to him.”
Chimaev was 6-Zero when he debuted within the UFC on Combat Island in Abu Dhabi in July. He completed middleweight John Phillips within the second spherical after which 10 days later stopped welterweight Rhys McKee within the first.
After the win over McKee, he advised UFC president Dana White he wished to combat once more at UFC 252, which was scheduled 20 days after he beat McKee. The UFC agreed, however it didn’t occur as a result of he wasn’t in a position to get a visa in time.
However White advised Yahoo Sports activities he thinks Chimaev has star potential and loves what he’s making an attempt to do. He mentioned by no means was he disrespecting Meerschaert by reserving Maia in opposition to Chimaev earlier than Chimaev’s combat with Meerschaert had occurred.
“I really like guys like this,” White mentioned of Chimaev. “He’s proficient, he assured, he’s on a roll and he simply desires to combat. We booked him at middleweight in opposition to [Meerschaert] and he’s at welterweight in opposition to [Maia]. No matter occurs within the combat with Meerschaert has no affect on the Maia combat. They’re totally different divisions. He’s both going to win or lose in opposition to Meerschaert and both method, he’s going to combat Maia. It’s not meant to disrespect anybody.”
Meerschaert is 31-13, however is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Ian Heinisch at UFC 250. He’s obtained a various sport, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to go together with his kickboxing background.
Chimaev, although, clearly isn’t impressed with Meerschaert’s jiu-jitsu.
“I’m quicker than him and I’m higher than him in all the things, in wrestling and in jiu-jitsu,” Chimaev advised Yahoo Sports activities. “I don’t perceive how he obtained his black belt. He beat one man, Jack Hermansson, and choked him out. I don’t assume Jack Hermansson is a black belt.”
And so the place Meerschaert would possibly really feel disrespected is the overwhelming confidence that oozes out of Chimaev as he discusses the combat.
He’s trying to end the combat in a powerful method.
“Possibly I’ll knock him out or possibly I’ll take him down and smash his face,” Chimaev mentioned. “It doesn’t matter.”
Chimaev desires to compete at each middleweight and welterweight and has set a purpose of successful each belts. He mentioned if he wins two, he’d need to be an energetic champion and defend the belts.
It’s an enormous endeavor for somebody who hasn’t fought a ranked opponent but, however that’s how sturdy his self-belief is. White mentioned there aren’t many who can do this however he suspects Chimaev could also be one among them.
“Individuals are going to like him as a result of he desires to combat the largest, baddest dudes he can combat,” White mentioned. “I believe he believes he already might beat [welterweight champion Kamaru] Usman. That’s how he’s and the form of confidence he has. If he retains successful, he’s going to explode.”
Chimaev confirmed that he does, certainly, consider he can defeat Usman now. When requested how he felt he matched up with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who will defend his belt on Sept. 26 in Abu Dhabi in opposition to unbeaten Paulo Costa, Chimaev chuckled.
It will be, he mentioned, straightforward.
“For me, I believe it will be a simple combat combating Adesanya as a result of how is he going to get [me off of him]? … I’ll take him down and maintain him down and get a submission. He’s a striker. [Yoel] Romero, all people is aware of, he’s a tough puncher, however he didn’t take him down. Nicely, I’m going to take him down. That’s what I’ll do as a result of he’s probably the greatest fighters hanging within the UFC.”
He’s nothing if not trustworthy. These are large phrases, however it’s additionally an enormous nickname that his supervisor, Ali Abdelaziz, has held on him, referring to him as “Khabib 2.0.” UFC light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is 28-0, the most effective pound-for-pound fighter on the planet and essentially the most dominant fighter within the sport.
If he’s something near Nurmagomedov’s degree, he’ll be incredible.
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