Dana White Discusses Khamzat Chimaev’s Future, Free Speech in UFC

Khamzat Chimaev was widely expected to face Demian Maia with a win at UFC Vegas 11.

Chimaev (9-0) got that win, knocking out out veteran Gerald Meerschaert in all of seventeen seconds. The problem is, “Borz” looks ready to fight again already.

“It’s one thing to say ‘I want to turn around’ but not like this,” UFC President Dana White exclaimed following the fight. “I don’t know what to do with him. We got some sh*t to figure out before we leave tonight.”

So perhaps the Brazilian isn’t the next stop for Chimaev. “He might fight before Maia and fight Maia too,” suggested White. “Maia’s not going to be ready in time for this kid.”

The Chimaev problem is a good problem for any promoter to have. A fighter who wants to fight, constantly, puts on big shows and wins. Then there’s the other kind of problem you can have with a fight: bad blood, fighters crossing the line, the sort of controversy that Colby Covington has made a living off of in recent years.

Covington, both before and after his fight with Tyron Woodley, dipped in to politics and social issues again and again. Called Woodley a “domestic terrorist sympathizer” prior to the fight, then doubled down on that statement in the post-fight press conference.

White, however, seemed to suggest that there was no thought of curtailing that talk.

“One of the things we’ve never done here at the UFC is stop people from expressing how they feel about certain things, inside or outside the octagon,” White stated. “Even if it’s me, if it’s about me. Who’s more about free speech than we are? We literally let our people do or say whatever it is they do.”

White has a point. He’s had notoriously public spats with numerous fighters under him over the years. At times, however, the UFC has chosen to censure fighters in specific circumstances. Take Matt Mitrione’s suspension after making derogatory statements about transgender fighter Fallon Fox.

Still, that’s a course of action the UFC has rarely employed. And White noted that, when it comes powder kegs like Covington-Woodley, there has been worse. “I would have to say, to this day, still the darkest one ever was Khabib and Conor. I didn’t feel great after I left that press conference.” On the other hand, “everything that happened this week, I f*cking saw it coming a hundred miles away.”

Which is why there was little concern about Covington and Woodley getting out of hand. “You heard everything already. You heard all the talk. These guys wanted to fight, they hated each other, the whole deal,” noted White. “The Conor-Khabib thing you didn’t see coming. I didn’t see that coming. It was just very weird and very dark.”

“We’ve never stopped anyone from expressing themselves and saying how they feel,” he added. “My philosophy is always, this is a fight. People are going to say mean sh*t to each other. It’s like, they shouldn’t be allowed to say that? They’re going to f*cking punch each other in the face tomorrow!”

“This is the fight game, I don’t believe in all that.”

If you’ve noticed White looking a little jacked of late, there’s a reason. “I had shoulder surgery a year ago, and for the first time in my life, I hired a trainer,” he revealed. “I never had a trainer before. I’ve been like this guy for like a year, it’s awesome.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 11 post-fight press conference with Dana White above.