After retiring from the sport Brian Stann became a highly regarded color-commentator for the UFC for a period of time, and years later it’s now emerged that he actually predicted Khamzat Chimaev’s rise to fame all the way back in 2017.
A viral video shows Stann answering a question at a UFC fan Q&A back then in which he was asked if there was any fighter rising up on the regional circuit who he thought could make it to the UFC.
“There’s a welterweight in Sweden, at Sweden MMA All-Stars that train Alexander Gustafsson. I don’t know his name. I just know him by reputation,” Stann responded.
“He’s not in the UFC yet, but he has a whole lot of success with all of the big names that train out of MMA All-Stars in Stockholm, and when we get this kid signed, I think he’s going to make some real waves.”
At the time Chimaev didn’t even have a professional fight on his record and so it would take a further three years before Stann’s prediction finally came true after Chimaev compiled a 6-0 record and then signed for the UFC.
Since then Chimaev has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence, having now compiled a further five wins in a row. His first four victories inside the Octagon saw him stream-roll through opposition at both welterweight and middleweight, finding finishes by both submissions and strikes against the likes of John Phillips, Rhys Mckee, Gerald Meerschaert and then Li Jingliang.
He then received a major step-up in competition for his latest fight against former welterweight title challenger and current No.2 ranked contender Gilbert Burns this past weekend at UFC 273.
This time Chimaev found the going tougher, with Burns largely giving as good as he got in what’s likely to be a contender for ‘Fight Of The Year’, but in the end he again emerged victorious via unanimous decision.
There’s rumors he may now fight No.1 contender Colby Covington next rather than jump straight into a title shot against Kamaru Usman, and despite having high hopes for Chimaev, he has cautioned that he should certainly be wary of trying to fight the dominant champion too soon.
“If I’m managing him, don’t be in such a rush, because the reward is Kamaru Usman, and if you want to try and beat that monster, you’ve got to hope he’s getting real comfortable and making a lot of money and wearing all the name brands and not training as hard, because athletically and mentally right now, Kamaru Usman could be the best fighter on the planet,” Stann said on the MMA Hour show.
“[Chimaev]’s ready, and it will be a fight, [but] do I think that it’s time for him, it’s his best opportunity to beat a guy like Kamaru Usman? I mean, Usman’s an animal, and he’s just so good and he’s still getting better. If I’m managing him — and you’re never gonna convince a fighter to slow down, that’s just the way we have to think — I do everything I can to get him more time, more experience. That fight, and the fact that it went as long as it did against Gilbert, that was the best possible outcome for him.
“To have to go through that, to have to dig deep, I think Colby Covington would be a smart next fight for him because that’s gonna be a challenge too. That’s a really hard fight, but I think he’s ready for that. He’s gonna be competitive. That’s a fight he can go win. I don’t know that he’s ready and can smash Kamaru. I don’t believe he can smash Kamaru like he might say. He has to think that way, but nobody’s walking into the octagon and just walking through Kamaru Usman. Not gonna happen.”