The Greatest Non-Title Fight In The History of The UFC.
Khamzat Chimaev just won from rank 2 contender Gilbert “Durinho” Burns at UFC 273 and that has confirmed what a prodigal prospect he may be, but let it be clear it wasn’t an easy win or an easy fight. Both fighters fought tirelessly, throwing strikes from disadvantageous positions and stretching each other’s willpower to the brink of destruction.
Khamzat saw more adversity in Gilbert Burns than he has ever seen in his professional MMA career thus far with 119 significant strikes landed on Borz in comparison to his career history of a total 4 strikes landed against him. The judge’s decision called it 29 – 28 in favor of Khamzat who will carry on his 11-0 clean win streak to his next fight against Rank 1 contender Colby Covington. On the other hand Durinho Burns showed up with the most well conditioned physique the octagon saw throughout the event. All of this and more, makes this fight not just one of the most thrilling bouts of the year but the greatest non-title fight in history.
Khamzat came running towards the arena as his team arrived and looked excited and pumped up for the fight. Gilbert Burns took a slower pace upon entry, while Darren Till and Khamzat sat on the cage fence unlooking with confidence while the Brazilian Durinho arrived. The eyes of Jacksonville and the World, were set on these two warriors alone to stand opposite each other in what would be 15 mins of all out war. No other main card match had as much hype, attention and wonder as what these two fighters brought to the octagon last Saturday at UFC 273.
Round 1 started at a high pace from Khamzat, seemingly looking for an early knockout with his outstanding power. However despite getting solid contact on Burns and wobbling him a few times he was unable to find a finish. The pressure from the Smesh King didn’t stop there he carried it into combinations of strong jabs, followed by a wicked elbow that sliced open Gilbert’s forehead and a takedown that led to ground and pound, the round was massively in Borzs’ favor. Though Burns took every punch and jab seemingly undeterred from the pressure and returned hammerfists as often as he got hit. There were multiple moments throughout the match (5 in total) where Durinho attempted a takedown and Khamzats overwhelming strength not only prevailed but showed alarming immobility despite Durinhos strength. Such an exchange of power induced a jaw dropping reaction from the audience, something truly unique was witnessed.
Round 2 Khamzat followed through on his first round pace however began losing both the blitz energy and rapid aggression he was projecting. This gave Gilbert just enough room to maneuver in a dangerous overhand hook that drew blood and brought the Wolf King to his knees for the first time. While on the ground and getting back to his feet, Gilbert launched a potentially illegal kick towards Khamzats face, however it didn’t land and buckled the hand Khamzat was using to rebalance himself. This was the first time in history that Khamzat Chimaev has ever been rocked. Despite this he bounced back up and jumped right back into the war. During which we could hear Khamzats coach Andreas Michael shouting at him in Swedish to stick to the game plan and play more strategically. The round ended with both fighters in a grappled clinch and a possibly illegal slap was thrown out from Khamzat while backing away. At this point, the match swayed a bit towards Burn’s corner, anxiousness built resulting each second being more entertaining than the former.
In Between rounds 1 and 2 we get to hear a passionate and absolutely furious AllStars, Andreas Michael (Head Coach) repeating to him to stick to the plan and not go for the knockout because the all out brawls were not doing him any favors. (He explains on his IG here)
Round 3 started with some early leg kicks and distance from Gilbert’s side though the unrelenting pressure from Khamzat hadn’t run its course. Borz took his coaches advice and maintained distance by kiting Durinhos shorter range while throwing damaging jabs right back at him. To see such adamant resolve and willpower from Burns in the face of an opponent that obstinately keeps forward pressure was a glorious UFC moment. This followed into Burns’ final takedown of the night, nearly flipping Khamzat who applied his wrestling training to break free and launch in a dangerous combination to prevent such a display from recurring. Then Khamzat managed to utilize his range and longer reach by repeatedly launching dangerous jabs and hooks from both orthodox and southpaw stances until the final bell rang.
Both Khamzat and Gilbert fought tooth and nail for a victory, the environment was electric with no one knowing which way the tides would turn. Gilbert had his chances coming out on top in the second round completely. But Khamzat took the cake and all the dessert with him, like a fridge at his AllStars Training Gym. The fight left the crowd on their feet, enthralled by the display of ruthless composure from Durinho and the bulldozing courage from young Borz. This was the fight of the night and it’s already being argued that it might be fight of the year but this fight is easily in contention for one of the greatest fights in history and quite possibly the greatest fights ever to not be a title fight.