‘He was two or three moves ahead’ – What it’s like to fight UFC star Khamzat Chimaev as Rhys McKee makes surprising revelation after Fight Island defeat
Rhys McKee has revealed exactly what it was like to face rapidly rising UFC prospect Khamzat Chimaev on just six days’ notice.
The Northern Irishman featured in one of the most heart-warming videos of the summer when Cage Warriors boss Graham Boylan filmed his live reaction to learning he was to be a part of the UFC.
McKee flew to Fight Island on Abu Dhabi where, despite his best efforts, he was unable to overcome the Chechan-born Swede and is now seeking the chance to make it right on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Bantamweight contender ‘Skeletor’ will face Alex Morono at the Apex in the hope he can expunge the memory of facing Chimaev with less than a week to prepare.
The 24-year-old admitted that while the menacing middleweight presented him problems during their welterweight bout, he never felt intimidated by Chimaev.
“He didn’t talk to me or anything like that,” he told talkSPORT.com. “I’ve said this before, but the fight wasn’t like anything I haven’t felt before.
“There was never a moment it felt like it was an unwinnable fight. I think my biggest issue was that I hadn’t wrestled in 12, 13 weeks.
“This isn’t an excuse by the way, but anybody knows that when you haven’t wrestled or boxed or kickboxed in a while it is a case of muscle memory.
“If you’re not doing it for so long, there’s a timing issue, your eyes aren’t quite there and you can’t see the same things. Anything I did; he wasn’t even one step ahead, he was two or three.
“I’m not saying he’s not tremendously skilful, because he is, but it was also down to the fact I had been out for a wee while. I mean, he is fantastic and he is fighting Leon Edwards so, props to him.
“But I couldn’t sit here and say I haven’t felt stronger presences in the octagon.”
“I didn’t have a moment to settle or reflect while I was there,” he added. “But it was amazing.
“I’ve seen a few people have actually asked me in the run up to this one about how hectic the last one was, saying it mustn’t have been that nice.
“I had the best five or six days of my life! The UFC pull no punches in looking after their fighters and that one was no different. I was totally catered for in any way possible.
“So the experience, as a first welcome into the UFC, was fantastic. Unfortunately the performance didn’t really match what I wanted, so that is what Saturday night is for though.”