The UFC may not be sure exactly what’s next for Khamzat Chimaev, but the fighter’s jiu-jitsu coach Alan ‘Finfou’ Nascimento, has ideas.
The promotion booked Chimaev to face Nate Diaz in a welterweight contest in the main event of UFC 279. Unfortunately, Chimaev did not come anywhere close to the 170-pound limit for that scrap. After he weighed in at 178.5 pounds, the UFC shuffled the top three bouts on the card and slid Chimaev into a 180-pound catch-weight contest opposite Kevin Holland. Chimaev ran through his opponent in that matchup, submitting Holland in 2:13.
After the pay-per-view fight card, UFC president Dana White offered his thoughts on the future of Chimaev.
“It’s a problem. It’s a problem that he missed weight,” White said of the rising star. “I don’t know, we’ve got to look at it and figure it out and what makes sense is for him to fight at . So, we’ll see.”
As for how Nascimento sees things? The fact that Chimaev missed weight and forced the reshuffling of the pay-per-view event the day before the card isn’t neccessarily a barrier to his fighter competing for the UFC welterweight crown the next time he sets foot in the octagon.
“The 170 division is a bit stuck because there will be a rematch,” Nascimento told MMA Fighting, referring to the as yet unbooked, but expected rematch between champion Leon Edwards and ex-champ Kamaru Usman. “Chimaev’s situation at 170 is, he either waits for the fight or [serves as] a backup fighter in case someone gets injured. But, in case he moves up, a fight with a top-5 guy would definitely be interesting.”
“We thought about going up, but we have created a legacy at 170 already, “Nascimento added. “If we go up to 185, everything would have been for nothing, except for the experience. But the focus is on becoming champion. After he mentioned [going up], we sat down with the whole team and decided to wait for the [welterweight division] to settle so at least we have a title fight. If he wins, perfect, we go for the next one. If he loses, we’d go up.”
UFC president Dana White recently softened his stance on Chimaev fighting at welterweight, saying, “I’m in the, ‘What does he want to do?’ Where does he want to be, and what does he want to do? Does he want to make 170 and go for the title at 170, or does he want to go to 185 and go for the title there?”
However, fans and media have to suspect that the UFC would be very reluctant to book Chimaev in another high-profile welterweight fight—especially one where he would serve as the main event and need to make championship weight of 170—without him having first proved he can hit the welterweight mark on the scale.