Ben Askren isn’t committing to the Khamzat Chimaev hype train just yet.
Chimaev has had the UFC promotional train fixed to him since his arrival in the promotion, and perhaps controversially, now has two fights booked ahead of him at once. First up, this Saturday night against Gerald Meerschaert, before a second outing against Demian Maia in about a months time.
For Askren, who’s friends with Meerschaert, he enjoys the UFC’s decision to double book their up-and-comer. He’s just not necessarily convinced Chimaev has the ability to follow through with the company plan just yet.
“Yeah, it’s great. Yeah, I told Gerald it’s great. It adds to the story, and you can steal somebody else’s hype,” Askren said, speaking to Submission Radio. “I mean, that’s for sure, right? So, there’s this hype behind Chimaev. Steal his hype. Make it yours. And, you know, Gerald probably can’t make welterweight, which is the Maia fight. So, just tell Maia to bump up or something. I think that’s the move for sure.
“The hard part about it is, we saw him twice in the UFC. But the first guy he fought, John Phillips, he’s 1-4 in the UFC. So, he was very unsuccessful. And the second guy he fought was a new addition to the UFC. So, he has not won a UFC fight. And so it’s like, ok, well, he definitely smashed these guys, there’s no doubt about that, but are these guys Gerald Meerschaert level competition? And the answer to that, is no, they’re definitely not. So, sometimes people can look great against guys who aren’t as good, and then when they step into a little competition, it’s a lot harder. So, I don’t really know what to expect out of Chimaev. I know Gerald is really good, he’s really tough. But yeah, I don’t know about Chimaev yet.”
In Askren’s mind, at the very least, Meerschaert is a brilliant test for the newcomer, and could quite capably pull out the victory.
“I think one of the things is, Gerald’s really hard to submit. He’s really hard to control. He never wrestled, but fairly solid wrestling. So, one of the things I can see happening for sure, is Chimaev comes out like a ball of fire and isn’t able to do the damage, isn’t able to get the submissions, and then Gerald starts taking over as the fight moves on. I can see that happening one hundred percent.”