UFC 279: Chimaev Seeks Redemption Against Heroic Holland After Fiasco

Khamzat Chimaev vs Kevin Holland, UFC 279
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland, UFC 279 Ceremonial Weigh-ins. Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Khamzat Chimaev will need a signature performance against Kevin Holland if he is to begin to undo the fiasco he caused after missing weight and shuffling the deck at UFC 279.

On Thursday morning, Khamzat Chimaev was the darling of the UFC whom the promotion had gifted a stylistically favorable match-up over a bonafide superstar in a pay-per-view main event.  In the 24 hours since then, he has become vilified after missing weight and becoming the cause of a complete shuffling of the deck at UFC 279.  Usually greeted with cheers by fans excited to see the next big thing, he has since been met with vitriol for his lack of professionalism after seemingly not even trying to make weight (the UFC would later release a statement, reading in part that “Due to recommendation from the UFC medical team, Khamzat Chimaev was advised to stop cutting weight due to weight management issues.”).

He may indeed have been the first to engage Kevin Holland physically backstage at the press conference this week.  Whether he was or not does not change the fact that he now finds himself in a must-win if he is to continue his pursuit of the welterweight title which, 48 hours ago, he had a shot at virtually locked in.  “Borz” has been electrifying in every appearance, but he needs a true to form performance if he is to convince the brass and the fans that his weight miss was just a speed bump en route to what many thought was a precursor to his superstardom.

In a sport where individuality is the key to dollars, Kevin Holland has found a way to be an ever present fixture in the sport.  When he’s not competing, he often finds himself in the headlines for helping his community whenever a crime has just taken place.  It has made him a favorite of both fans and UFC President Dana White, and it has been the key to making him. a top contender in two weight classes.  After an iconic 2020 at middleweight, he now finds himself working his way up the ladder at welterweight with a chance to leap into title contention much faster than expected.

“Trailblazer” found himself struggling against top contenders such as Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson, but at welterweight he now no longer gives up the size disadvantages he did before.  But the fight with Chimaev will arguably be his biggest test as he deals with the physicality and grappling of one of the division’s most vaunted forces in both categories.  If their back-and-forth will create a desire in Chimaev to fight Holland uncharacteristically, it could be the  x-factor into upsetting the most hyped up-and-comer of the past five years.

Stylistically, Chimaev will. need to keep Holland on the mat or against the fence as much as possible as Trailblazer brings significantly more threats to him in the center of the Octagon than Diaz.  Holland does his best work in the center of the Octagon where his speed and long frame causes problems.  The biggest test for Holland will be executing great movement and shot selection to drag Chimaev into deep waters.  On the mat, Chimaev preserves his gas tank for the five round bout and neutralizes the most dangerous weapons that Holland possesses.

A Chimaev victory will lead to questions: He would need to wait for Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman to settle their score next year,  but his weight miss likely leads to a scenario where he must prove he can make the limit in which a fight with top contender Colby Covington could now materialize.  Holland may wait for a title shot after such a victory, but a fight with any number of top-ranked contenders could also be necessary as most predictions are that the next man in line won’t fight for the welterweight belt until next summer at the earliest.


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