Kamaru Usman, the former welterweight champion, faced his third consecutive UFC loss to the unbeaten Khamzat Chimaev in a middleweight showdown at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi last Saturday.
Chimaev extended his undefeated record to 13-0 with a majority decision victory over the Nigerian at UFC 294. The action kicked off swiftly with Chimaev’s determined pursuit of a single-leg takedown. Despite Usman’s initial resistance, Chimaev’s persistence paid off as he brought the Nigerian Nightmare to the mat. He dominated the round, spending most of it on Usman’s back and threatening with submission attempts.
The second round saw a slower pace, with Chimaev opting for striking over wrestling. He did manage a takedown with only 30 seconds left in the round but didn’t capitalize much on it.
The third and final round brought an intriguing shift in momentum. Usman started strong, controlling the distance and landing solid boxing strikes. However, his efforts were halted when Chimaev executed a well-timed double-leg takedown. Usman did manage to regain his feet in the final 30 seconds, where both fighters made their last efforts to secure the win.
Usman now finds himself on a three-fight losing streak, with two losses to Leon Edwards. Prior to this, he had enjoyed a five-fight streak of successful welterweight title defenses.
Originally, Chimaev was slated to face Paulo Costa, but due to an elbow injury, Costa withdrew from the fight. Usman stepped in on short notice, and he had to adjust to the weight class in a brief period.
With a victory over the former champion, Chimaev is now in a strong position to contend for a UFC title. Dana White confirmed this in an interview, emphasizing that the winner of this fight will likely get the next title shot, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
The middleweight division has seen a recent shake-up with Israel Adesanya’s upset loss to Sean Strickland, changing the landscape of the division. Strickland now faces a fresh challenge in Chimaev, promising an exciting and uncertain future for the division.