Did the UFC encourage Khamzat Chimaev to come in heavy for his previously scheduled scrap with Nate Diaz at UFC 279?
On Saturday night, Chimaev will make his return to the Octagon more than a year removed from his last outing. Stepping into the co-main event spotlight in Abu Dhabi, the undefeated Chechen monster will face the toughest test of his career thus far when he meets former welterweight world champion Kamaru Usman.
Usman’s injection into the co-headliner came just 10 days before fight night after Chimaev’s original opponent, Paulo Costa, was not medically cleared due to an infection in his elbow.
Chimaev will make his formal debut in the middleweight division after spending the majority of his career racking up wins at welterweight. The move up in weight comes after ‘Borz’ infamously stepped on the scale nearly eight pounds over the limit for his main event showdown against Nate Diaz. Chimaev’s massive miss on the scale put not only their bout but the entire card in jeopardy. Fortunately, the promotion was able to do some last-minute scrambling to save the event.
As it turns out, shuffling things around at zero hour may have been part of the UFC’s plan all along. Speaking with members of the press ahead of his return to the UAE, Khazmat Chimaev revealed that it was not his decision to stop cutting weight the night before his scrap with Diaz.
“Everyone speaks about [why] I didn’t make weight once in my life and there was some plans to do that that way,” Chimaev revealed. “It’s not my plan, but I can’t say everything here.”
Chimaev’s hesitance to speak on the situation further certainly makes it seem like the UFC played a role in the weight miss, and manufactured much of the drama that took place 36 hours before showtime.
‘Borz’ went on to compete at the event, sliding into the co-main event slot against fast-talking fan favorite Kevin Holland. Chimaev delivered another memorable performance, ragdolling Holland for a majority of the opening round before securing a d’arce choke, moving him to 12-0 in his MMA career.
He’ll look to make it a baker’s dozen on Saturday night and secure his first opportunity to compete for UFC gold.