Khamzat Chimaev has the toughest fight of his career at UFC 273 today. The undefeated welterweight was pushed to his absolute limit by Gilbert Burns but emerged with the unanimous decision win.

Both men can expect to receive performance bonuses after putting on one of the best fights of the year:

Contrasting strategies

The first round was almost all Chimaev but Burns was comfortable enough to stay in the pocket and look for counters. The warning signs were there for the Tiger Muay Thai star and the tide turned dramatically in the second stanza.

Suddenly it was Burns who was doing the damage with Chimaev  looking unsteady on his feat at times. It left the fight delicately poised heading into the third and final round with both men clearly having won one apiece.

Both men employed contrasting strategies. Chimaev was the aggressor and Burns was on the back foot but it soon became clear that the Brazilian was preserving his energy looking to land one big counter.

But while Burns was looking for the finish it was Chimaev who was winning the round and that would ultimately prove decisive on the scorecards. In the end all three judges gave him the third with identical scorecards reading 29-28 in his favour.

Loving it

Chimaev had never previously been the distance in his MMA career and afterwards he admitted that Burns had pushed him to his limit,

“I’m bloody, I’m tired, I feel a little pain (but) I love this shit!”

With the win he improves to 12-0 and no-one can question that the 27 year old is a legitimate contender in the welterweight division. But Burns also exposed some vulnerabilities and Chimaev’s aura of invincibility might have been dented even if his perfect professional record remains intact.