With just under 3m social media followers, Khamzat Chimaev became one of the most notable names in the UFC last year. Khamzat had the best start possible to his UFC career with three decisive wins within three months. However, he, unfortunately, caught COVID and experienced lingering after effects, leaving Chimaev out of the Octagon for over a year. This October, He’s due to return by competing against top 15 ranked fighter Li Jingliang. But what has Khamzat been up to during his time off the UFC to build his personal brand?
Chimaev is a member of the All Stars gym in Sweden, and his gym released an exclusive Khamzat Chimaev necklace. The pendant has an image of half of Chimaev’s face merged with a wolf. Khamzat has the nickname ‘Borz’, which is known as a Chechen wolf. This stood out to me because it’s more than a simple accessory; it’s a piece of merchandise representing Chimaev’s brand identity.
We see many other UFC fighters embody their nicknames through content creation or mainstream media. For example, Dustin ‘the Diamond’ Poirier regularly uses the diamond emoji on social media captions. Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor regularly walks out to Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G as his ring walk.
Considering Khamzat is early into his UFC career, this is a good start to establishing a strong brand presence through his nickname. This could lead to different avenues, such as borz-themed merchandise, content interlinked with Chimaev’s passion for Chechen wolves or something similar.
The Russian born has regularly featured in YouTube videos and Swedish MMA Media outlet, Frontkick.online. Most content is training footage, daily vlogs and interviews.
Seeing how quick Chimaev’s growth sprouted after his third UFC win, he’s subsequently built an audience who will be curious to explore his life away from the Octagon. On the Frontkick.online YouTube channel, whenever Chimaev is mentioned in a video title, those are where the most views and engagement lie.
Chimaev currently hasn’t got his own YouTube channel but should consider it if he hasn’t already. He wouldn’t necessarily have to produce any new content, but having it available directly from himself allows him to create another engagement avenue with his fanbase.
Khamzat was born in Chechnya, Russia but has lived in Sweden for the majority of his life. He’s also a devoted Muslim and proudly represents his culture in and out of the cage. Islam is one of the most followed religions worldwide, which has many followers from Russia, as we discovered with Khabib’s representation of it from Dagestan.
Chimaev could incorporate his cross-national culture into content creation in many ways. Whether that’s through vlogs across his home town, showing his fans his favourite national foods, iconic places within his neighbourhood and similar. It’s an opportunity to build fan orientated relationships that can evolve into monetization opportunities.
There’s plenty of potential with Chimaev and his personal brand, some of which has been fulfilled. His rise to UFC stardom is a very marketable opportunity for him regardless of being out of the Octagon for nearly a year. His fans will likely be very curious to keep updated with his story, and it’s Borz’s chance to begin building an engaged community of super fans.