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There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The Rise of Khamzat Chimaev

Khamzat Chimaev, one of the most dangerous contenders in the UFC welterweight division, has recently stirred up quite the controversy following the dramatic fight week of UFC 279.  After he incited a backstage brawl which ultimately canceled the press conference,  Khamzat shockingly missed weight by 8.5 pounds.  The UFC ultimately scrapped his highly anticipated clash with UFC legend Nate Diaz, and Chimaev instead fought Kevin Holland in a catchweight bout on short notice.   Although Holland showed some impressive scrambling, Khamzat nevertheless finished the job quickly, earning an impressive first round submission.

Though he has shown the skills to compete for the welterweight title, his disastrous weight miss has suddenly raised questions regarding his future in that division.  The UFC has already expressed reluctance at allowing him to compete at 170 pounds again, undoubtedly fearing the possibility that Chimaev misses weight for a title fight.  At the same time, Chimaev’s team has shown some interest in taking a fight at middleweight.

The next title fight at welterweight will likely see newly crowned champion Leon Edwards meet Kamaru Usman for a third time, which means Chimaev should have time to figure out his next steps.  He has already recorded some fights in the middleweight division, including a first round knockout over Gerald Meerschaert.  “Borz” could very well make a run for the middleweight title, and he could start one with a fight against Paulo Costa, who has adamantly demanded a fight with Chimaev. 

Chimaev’s strong grappling would certainly pose an interesting stylistic puzzle for the current champion, Israel Adesanya.  If, however, Chimaev can show that his weight miss was just a one-time occurrence, he could certainly continue his upward trajectory at 170 pounds.  The fans would certainly tune in for a fight between Khamzat and the perennial welterweight challenger Colby Covington in a title eliminator bout.  Alternatively, Chimaev could square off against the winner of the upcoming bout between Belal Muhammad and Sean Brady to solidify his welterweight resume.  

While he has incurred venomous backlash following UFC 279, Khamzat Chimaev undoubtedly remains one of the most exciting title prospects currently in the UFC.  His controversial fight week, while concerning, may ultimately become just one chapter in his exciting journey to the top.

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