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Khabib Nurmagomedov: Khamzat Chimaev deserves a ranked opponent, then No. 1 contender fight

When asked about Khamzat Chimaev, Khabib Nurmagomedov had nothing but praise.

Chimaev (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who has recently emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the UFC, has scored finishes of John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert in the span of just two months.

The unbeaten prospect has drawn comparisons to lightweight champion Nurmagomedov for his dominant grappling, and “The Eagle” is certainly sold on Chimaev’s talent.

“I don’t know what the UFC is going to do with him about his next opponent, but in my opinion, I think he deserves top 10, top 15,” Nurmagomedov said at a virtual UFC 254 pre-fight news conference Thursday. “In my opinion, it’s top 10. He deserves to fight with a really tough opponent, like five rounds, and then after this one, he deserves a contender fight.”

Chimaev was initially double booked to face Meerschaert and then Demian Maia, but after Chimaev dispatched of Meerschaert in just 17 seconds at UFC on ESPN+ 36, various opponents such as Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny have been linked to his name.

Nurmagomedov, who shares the same manager as Chimaev, Ali Abdelaziz, hinted that “Borz” may already have his next fight booked and will headline an event in December. Nurmagomedov thinks a win for Chimaev should propel him to a No. 1 contender fight at 185 pounds.

“He finish all his opponents, what do you think?” Nurmagomedov said on Chimaev. “Ali told me he’s going fight with tough opponent, five rounds in December. This is very interesting. Main event in UFC, this is very good attention and good opportunity for him, and if he wins this fight, next fight I think he deserves contender fight.”

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