This time last week, Chimaev was gearing up for his very first time in the main event spotlight. Sharing it with him was set to be one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, Nate Diaz.
But in a fight week that had already seen him almost come to blows with Paulo Costa at the UFC Performance Institute and force Thursday’s press conference to be cancelled due to a backstage altercation with Kevin Holland, things went from bad to worse when Chimaev tipped the scales 7.5 pounds over the limit.
With that, six fighters found themselves preparing for brand new opponents just 24 hours before they entered the Octagon. For Chimaev, the card shift meant he collided with Holland, who he quickly submitted in the UFC 279 co-main event.
But while he impressed once again with a flawless performance, much of the post-fight discussion has still surrounded his sizable weight miss and seemingly care-free attitude towards it.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Andreas Michael — Chimaev’s coach and owner of the Allstars Training Center in Stockholm — rubbished any suggestions that his man deliberately missed weight.
“He was getting muscle spasms, shaking,” Michael said. “Vomiting. When he stood up he was passing out. I was worried about him.”
Prior to his dismantling of Li Jingliang last October, Chimaev had been stuck on the sidelines for over a year, even considering retirement, owing to a serious bout of COVID-19. Michael explained the effect that still has on the Chechen-born Swede’s weight-cutting efforts.
“Ever since he got coronavirus and all these health issues, he’s had a little bit of a hard time making the weight,” Michael added. “Ever since that issue, his body has been a little bit off when it comes down to pushing it to the last drop. But I’m just speculating. Like I said, I’m not a physician, I’m not a doctor or anything like that, and I don’t claim to be one.”
With concern growing about his man’s condition, Michael listened to the advice of the doctor, putting an end to Chimaev’s cut.
“I told [Chimaev], ‘F*** this, your health is number one,’” Michael said. “That’s why we called the physician. We were thinking, ‘Forget about the fight. Is he alright?’ Cutting weight is very dangerous for the body if you push too hard, and I just wanted him to be OK.
“I thought to myself, ‘OK, if this means that I’m going to risk his health, then I’ve got to make an executive decision and I’ve got to be a leader and do what’s best for him.’ I talked to the doctor, and I asked him, ‘What do you think?’ The doctor told me, ‘Listen, I don’t advise that you continue cutting weight.’”
Michael Gives Update On Chimaev’s Weight Moving Forward
Chimaev had entered UFC 279 fight week seemingly within touching distance of a championship opportunity. The general consensus was that with a victory over Diaz, “Borz” could have staked his claim for the next shot, or at the very least slotted behind former champion Kamaru Usman in the queue.
Now, having not only failed to make the welterweight limit, but also caused an entire PPV main card to be altered the day before, questions have understandably been asked about Chimaev’s future at 170 pounds.
Assessing the likely scenario, Michael told Helwani that the plan remains title success in the welterweight division. However, the Allstars Training Center chief suggested that Chimaev’s 170-pound appearances will likely be more sporadic, with outings at 185 pounds inevitable — a sentiment also shared by White.
“His whole career he’s been fighting at welterweight,” Michael said. “He’s missed weight this time, but it’s not as if he’s been missing weight all the time. Of course, he’s been having a hard time making weight, but he’s always made weight. The point of the thing is that we’re going to make it easier and fight at middleweight some of the fights, but we’re game for welterweight as well.
“We’re not going to lose our ranking there, hopefully, because we’re so close to a title fight there. Once we take the belt there, we’re going to pursue the middleweight division with all our hearts. Right now, some fights are going to be at middleweight, some are going to be at middleweight, worthwhile fights. But that’s up to the UFC, of course, that’s not up to us.”
Wherever he fights, the goal remains the same for Chimaev — smashing everyone put in front of him. But if he’s to ensure that brutality results in UFC welterweight gold being added to his trophy cabinet, he’ll have to prove his discipline on the scale in the coming months.
What did you make of Khamzat Chimaev’s weight miss? Was Coach Michael smart to call off the cut?
All quotes h/t MMA Fighting