two titles, a monster in the making, three good reasons not to miss UFC 273

Huge evening in perspective for combat enthusiasts! Taking place this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida (live and exclusive Saturday night at 4 p.m. on RMC Sport 2), UFC 273 promises a huge show with two title fights, including an explosive revenge, and the return to the cage of the phenom Khamzat Chimaev.

First major test for the Chimaev phenomenon

He is the new phenomenon of the UFC. Since his debut in the major organization of MMA, in the summer of 2020, Khamzat Chimaev has panicked the counters. Four fights for four wins, three of them in the first round, and four “performance of the evening” bonuses, an unprecedented total after so few appearances in the octagon. He also gave an unreal total of 254 shots against… taken two, which goes to 112-1 on the only significant shots! If you want a comparison, since the inception of MMA’s uniform rules in the early 2000s, the best ratio of significant hits for the first four fights in the UFC is behind Matt Hughes, a former two-time welterweight champion. , with … 11.3 to 1.

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But beyond the numbers, marked by two records in modern UFC history with the shortest interval between two wins (10 days, between his first and his second in July 2020) and fastest timing to sign three wins in a row (66 days), it is the general impression that is clearly fascinating. The Swede of Chechen descent, a former wrestler, is currently running into adversity like a bowling ball in the middle of the pins. To the point where he created iconic moments, such as when he lifted China’s Li Jingliang, his last opponent in October 2021, before leading him through the cage to talk to Dana White, executive boss of the UFC, before punching his opponent. threw the ground.

The man who has never made it through the second round (10-0) in his career is seen by some as overrated, because he has not yet had to pass a major test. This will be the case this Saturday, and the chance to prove to the world that the hype around him is well deserved, with a clash against Brazilian Gilbert Burns, former world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, very complete fighter, number 2 in the UFC welterweight ranking and former challenger to champion Kamaru Usman. Who could be Chimaev’s next appointment if he passes the “Durinho” hurdle, especially if he does it with style, which would further boost his growing reputation.

Volkanovski, a throne to consolidate against a legend

It wasn’t necessarily the poster expected in this category, where many hoped for a third dance between division king Alexander Volkanovski and former champion Max Holloway. But given the challenger’s career, this opportunity is in main event (main fight) of UFC 273 is well deserved for him. At the age of 35, Chan Sung Jung – better known by his nickname “The Korean Zombie”, attributed to his ability to move forward and be aggressive, even after receiving heavy blows, like a zombie – will be for the second time. in his career (started in June 2007) for a shot at the UFC featherweight title.

In the first, in August 2013, he was knocked out by champion José Aldo, then at the top of his game, before stepping out of the cage for nearly four years to fulfill his military obligations at home. Nearly nine years later, the spectacular Korean will have to pass another tough test for his second chance to cover himself with gold: Volkanovski, a hyper-complete Australian fighter who has been undefeated for nine years (10-0 in the UFC, 23-1 in career) defended his title for the third time.

With victories over Aldo and Holloway (twice), “The Great” is already considered by many to be the greatest featherweight in UFC history. After his big win over Brian Ortega last September, a unanimous decision after a fight while in charge, he has another chance to show why. We would like to see “Zombie” win and take the title at the end of such a career, like Michael Bisping or Glover Teixeira in the past. If he does it by a talent like No. 3 Volkanovski . defeat pound for pound (all categories together) of the UFC, the achievement would be immense. XXL. But how hard does it seem to come up against a champion who has so few flaws…

Sterling-Yan, explosive revenge

Their first dance in the octagon dates back more than a year, March 2021, but no one has forgotten the scenario. Unlike champion Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling had won the rooster title, a first UFC crowning obtained under very specific conditions: the Russian had been disqualified for a powerful illegal knee to the face of the American of Jamaican descent, while the last one was knee on the ground (and thus three points of support on the ground).

Sterling then threw the belt away, as if feeling illegitimate to win it that way, before posing with a smile hours later. What drove Yan to accuse him of voluntarily refusing to resume the title fight as the champion turned the debate in his favor. Since then, the two never pass up an opportunity to excite each other through the media. The tension is there, strong, real, and it should result in an explosive rematch.

Many still consider Yan, who won the interim title with a demonstration against Cory Sandhagen last October, as the best bantamweight on the MMA planet. Even the UFC ratings seem to agree: the version pound for pound places the Russian in ninth place while Sterling, still champion, is not in the top 15 (this is the only category where the champion is overtaken by another fighter). But the American, also underrated after the first clash between the two when he got the fight off to a really good start, has arguments to spare and looks ready to thwart the odds to prove he deserves to be the champion. This shock is “just” the co-main event of the evening UFC 273. But it is undoubtedly the most intriguing fight on the map.