Khamzat Chimaev is large. Like, really large.
The Russian-born, Swedish welterweight stands 6-2, which is why he looks lanky at 171 pounds. But once the wrestler gets on your back, expect that 171 to feel like a ton of sweaty, pain-indifferent man-meat. It’s also why he is 10-0-0 as a professional fighter.
Kill Cliff Fight Club fighter Gilbert Burns faces off, but looking up, against Chimaev at UFC 273 in Saturday’s April 9 PPV event. Burns and Chimaev are the thrilling curtain raiser for two title fights, featherweights Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung and bantamweight Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan.
The task for the Kill Cliff fighter? Burns, at 20-3-0, is 5-10, and possesses a deadly striking reach of 71 inches to his opponent’s 75 inches.
If you want to see how they compare height-wise, check out their encounter in a hotel hallway, wearing nothing but towels. (Does Chimaev really say, "You're small, brother"?)
Burns has been working on changing up his Brazilian jiu-jitsu to accommodate the wrestling he expects from Chimaev. He’s been training with two Russian wrestlers who asked not to be identified.
From MMA Fighting: “I had to hire two wrestlers, two very tough Russians who are helping me daily. They asked to keep their names a secret, and I had to [agree], because they are showing me a lot of stuff, changing a lot of stuff in my game.
“I always liked single-leg [takedowns], double-leg, body lock, but the Russians have different details, unique grips. You’d think they are super strong, but they aren’t. They are strong, but their technique is great. There’s a lot of technique with the hip, waist, control. They are ahead of the United States [in that aspect].
“I’ve learned a lot in this camp. And you can’t just learn the defense, you have to attack as well so you feel it and develop your defensive skills.”
We'll see Saturday if the new game plan pays off.
By the way, Brazilian-born, father-of-two Burns' nickname is "Durinho," which means in Portuguese, "tiny tough one." Fitting.