Khamzat Chimaev was in serious trouble trying to make weight for UFC 279.
The top-ranked welterweight contender came in well over the 170-pound limit (including one-pound allowance) at Friday’s official weigh-ins, tipping the scales at 178.5 pounds, which forced him out of his main event bout with Nate Diaz and caused a reshuffling of the top-three fights on Saturday’s card. Diaz now fights Tony Ferguson at the main event, while Chimaev has been bumped down to a co-main event matchup with Kevin Holland.
UFC President Dana White announced the changes to Saturday’s lineup on Sportscenter via Instagram Live and he also commented on the medical issues that Chimaev dealt with as he attempted to cut weight.
“He was very, very lean already and he should have come in on weight,” White said. “He started to cut weight and he started locking up and cramping and all the things that happen from a bad cut.
“Unlike 10 years ago when we were doing this, they call in, we send a doctor up and a doctor determines whether he should keep cutting weight or not and the doctor told him he shouldn’t.”
White did not elaborate on whether Chimaev’s issues were taken into consideration when shifting him to a bout with Holland. This is the first time that Chimaev has missed weight in the UFC after previously competing in both the 170- and 185-pound divisions.
From a marketing standpoint, White agreed with the suggestion that the booking of the Chimaev vs. Holland bout was fortuitous given the existing bad blood between the fighters, which only escalated during a backstage melee at Thursday’s UFC 279 press conference (which was cancelled). According to Chimaev’s coach Andreas Michael, Chimaev connected with “a boot in the chest” on Holland.
“Yesterday, there were a lot of questions about what happened,” White said. “Kevin Holland and Khamzat Chimaev actually got into it yesterday backstage. Ironically, now they will fight on Saturday night.”