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Paulo Costa believes the pressure of UFC 279 got to Khamzat Chimaev: ‘I think he lost his mind a little bit’

Paulo Costa on The MMA Hour

Paulo Costa believes the moment was simply too big for Khamzat Chimaev.

UFC 279 was supposed to be a crowning moment for Chimaev. It was the Swedish fighter’s first main event, headlining a pay-per-view against one of the biggest stars in the sport, and there was hope that a win would push “Borz” into a new stratosphere of stardom.

Instead, things went south quickly. Chimaev had one of the most chaotic fight weeks ever, nearly getting into a fight with Costa, getting into another altercation with Kevin Holland that resulted in the cancellation of the pre-fight press conference, and then catastrophically missing weight for his bout against Nate Diaz, resulting in a major shuffling of the card, with Chimaev facing Holland instead of Diaz. And given just how wild the fight week was, Costa believes it proves that “Borz” couldn’t handle the pressure of the moment.

“It was crazy – I think he was so disturbed in his mind,” Costa told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I think he lost his mind, with all these crazy things that happened with him in the week. I think there was a lot of pressure above him and behind him, because he’s a little bit new at this, and to do a big fight against the legend Nate Diaz was not easy for him. So I think he lost his mind a little bit. It’s a lot of distractions for him.”

In the end, everything worked out for Chimaev as he dominated Holland to earn his sixth win inside the UFC. But in many respects, UFC 279 was still a catastrophe. Beforehand, Chimaev was the presumptive next in line at 170 pounds, but after his terrible weight miss, even Dana White believed it may be time for “Borz” to abandon the welterweight division.

Costa certainly thinks so.

“I think he should move to 185, to middleweight division, because it’s hard to make 170 for him, on that stage,” Costa said. “You know, your body changes. It’s never the same. Maybe you change for bad, maybe you change for better, but I think he needs to put a lot of [effort] to make that weight and I think it’s a big problem for him right now. Maybe he cannot do this anymore.”

Chimaev has competed at both welterweight and middleweight during his UFC run and maintains that he intends to win titles in both divisions. However, that may not be possible anymore as his own coach even admitted that following his long battle with COVID, the weight cut is now proving very difficult for Chimaev. And if Chimaev’s future really is at 185 full time, Costa is more than willing to settle their differences in the cage, but he isn’t holding his breath that Chimaev will agree.

“I’d like [to fight him] but I don’t really think this will happen because he avoids fighting me,” Costa said. “He doesn’t want to fight me. He just wants to fight small guys, smaller than him, you know? And guys who have no wrestling, have no takedown defense, have no power to f*** him up.

“He knows who I am and even him, his coach, his managers, the guys don’t want that fight. The guys want to fight Kevin Holland, small guys, Gilbert [Burns]. And I appreciate those guys, Gilbert and Holland, but he chooses who he wants to fight.”

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