Chimaev has become a star in the space of less than two weeks thanks to a pair of dominant victories on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi which set the record for the fastest-ever turnaround between wins in modern-era UFC history.
The newfound fame however appears to have come to the attention of ‘Notorious’ Irishman Conor McGregor, who despite supposedly being retired from combat sports has continued to engage on online sparring with active UFC combatants.
As thoughts have turned to what might be next for the Chimaev – who has been branded ‘Khabib 2.0’ in some quarters due to the grappling strengths similar to those of the undefeated UFC lightweight champion – McGregor was seen commenting on a UFC Instagram post about the Chechen fighter, dragging up the ‘rat’ insult he has previously applied to Dagestani rival Khabib.
“Rat lip,” goaded the Irishman in a comment on Chimaev which has since been deleted, but not before eagle-eyed social media users managed to screenshot it.
Chimaev appears to have got wind of the jibe, taking to his own Instagram account with an image of himself submitting Welshman Jon Phillips in his UFC debut on Fight Island, which visually bore similarities to the way Khabib choked out McGregor in their grudge match in Las Vegas in October 2018.
Tagging the former two-weight champ, Chimaev added a ‘chicken’ and ‘silent’ emoji to convey his contempt of the Irishman.
The Swedish-based Chimaev, who earned victory over Phillips at middleweight before dropping down to welterweight to beat Northern Ireland’s Rhys McKee 10 days later, had made reference to McGregor this weekend in his post-fight media duties.
“I do this not only for me, I do this for everybody I can help. I don’t want to be like Mayweather and McGregor, to show my money or something like that. I want to help people,” Chimaev replied when asked how he would spend his $50,000 Performance-of-the-Night bonus.
Prior to the bout against McKee he had also told RT Sport that he would “kill” anyone who he saw hitting an elderly man such as his father, naming McGregor and fellow UFC fighter Mike Perry, both of whom have come under unwanted scrutiny for striking elder members of the public.
After a whirlwind couple of weeks, talk has turned to how soon we will see Chimaev back in the octagon.
UFC boss Dana White has hinted that will happen potentially as soon as August, although we may have to wait until September or October before seeing the man nicknamed ‘Borz’ in action again.
Evoking a phrase beloved of Khabib, the 8-0 Chimaev has said he will “smash” whoever he faces next, asserting that he will be pound-for-pound number one within two years.
And along with his North Caucasus heritage, unbeaten record and formidable-looking grappling skills, he now posses one more thing in common with Khabib: a mutual foe in the form of Conor McGregor.