They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but that’s hardly what anyone would expect to result from Kevin Holland’s battles with COVID-19—at least not when it comes to other athletes suffering more serious long-term effects of the disease. Unfortunately that seems to be where the ‘Smack Man’ has positioned himself, at least when it comes to rising UFC star Khamzat Chimaev.
Chimaev tested positive for the novel coronavirus back in late November, while preparing for a fight against top ranked welterweight Leon Edwards. The news, along with Edwards’ own positive test, prompted the UFC to push the bout back into late January and then again until mid-March. Eventually, the fight had to be scrapped altogether. The reason? Chimaev’s long-hauler COVID symptoms.
“He complained that he had some chest pains after the training, so we gonna check the heart as well,” Chimaev’s coach said, speaking of the fighter’s ongoing symptoms in a recent interview. “We have been in and out of hospitals so many times now. Nowadays, lately, the last weeks it’s crazy. The other day, when he finished the training on Tuesday, he couldn’t even walk up to his room. He didn’t even have the energy to go up to his room. He fell asleep in the lobby.”
If that all sounds incredibly serious, however, fellow UFC talent and fast rising UFC middleweight Kevin Holland doesn’t seem to think so. Holland campaigned for a fight with Chimaev back in December. That opportunity never materialized. But in a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, Holland took a dig at what he perceived to be the real root of Chimaev’s extended recovery: a lack of heart.
“You sit up here and say it’s sad ‘cause he has COVID and sh*t like that, but they said I had COVID and we’re supposed to be athletes, and it’s like, get the f*ck over it,” Holland told Rogan (transcript via MMA Fighting), going on to invoke Jordan’s famous ‘flu game’ and his own COVID experience, having been pulled from a bout with Jack Hermansson following his own positive test on December 5th.
“My girl had it pretty good and I was f*cking her the whole time,” Holland added. “So it’s like we all take it different. Different fighters, different heart. Don’t claim to have that heart if you ain’t got it.”
“Sh*t, the flu sucks,” Holland said. “Michael Jordan still went out there and won. Difference.”
Kevin Holland claims that fighters should still get in the cage and fight even if they have COVID ♂️ pic.twitter.com/VoFaEtSKy4— Uptown Funk (@Uptown_MMA) February 25, 2021
The UFC recently made the decision to fly Chimaev to Las Vegas for continuing treatment of his COVID symptoms. A statement from Chimaev’s manager suggested that they’re hoping he’ll be able to compete again in June of this year.