Chimaev detonated a right-hand flush on Meerschaert’s jaw early in the first round, sending the American staggering backwards against the cage.
As Chimaev stepped in with two further shots on his stricken opponent, referee Mark Smith stepped in to stop the fight.
Just like that, the Chechen-born Chimaev extended his unbeaten record to nine wins from nine fights, and had his third UFC victory in the space of two months.
The 26-year-old was already coming off two impressive victories – at different weights – in record-quick succession on Fight Island in July, and on Saturday night at the UFC’s Apex facility he showed again why so many people see substance to the growing hype surrounding him.
Chimaev, who fights out of Sweden, picked up a $50,000 Performance of the Night for his troubles, and had fans including UFC boss Dana White firmly in thrall.
“I’m always angry to smash somebody, to knock him out like I did now,” Chimaev said afterwards.
“But nothing personal, it’s sport. You have to talk, to make him nervous… I see he was nervous, in the cage when I looked at him, he didn’t want to be there.”
Chimaev’s Russian background and softly-spoken yet menacing aura have thrown up inevitable comparisons with UFC lightweight ruler Khabib Nurmagomedov, although Chimaev insisted again on Saturday night that he was very much the first of his kind.
“People say ‘you’re Khabib number two’, something like that. But I’m Khamzat, I can knock out people, submit people, smash people. I have everything.”
Dana White was one man massively impressed as attention turned to the next opponent in the path of the man known as ‘Borz’, or ‘Wolf’ in his native Chechen.
“I don’t know what to do with him… He might fight before [Demian] Maia and fight Maia too. Maia might not be ready for this kid,” White said, referring to the veteran Brazilian grappling legend many have tipped as being the next test for Chimaev.
“What’s crazy about his win tonight… he knocked out a guy who’s 185lbs with one punch. [Chimaev] is a 170-lber. The guy is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Special.”
All aboard the Khamzat Chimaev Hype Train, it’s gathering some serious momentum.
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