It would appear everyone is still very interested in the fallout from UFC 279.
I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising, given that last week was one of the most chaotic in MMA history. But I got more questions than ever for this segment, and so, in an effort to answer as many as possible while still keeping this shorter than a Melville novel, we’re going to jump right into things and talk about Khamzat Chimaev, Nate Diaz, what’s next, and even a little UFC Vegas 60 talk at the end.
What’s next for Khamzat Chimaev?
Obviously Khamzat fumbled the bag at #UFC279.. but it doesn’t seem that he’s really fallen out of favor with the Dana/UFC brass. What is the best next fight for him? Colby at 70? Paulo at 85? 70 title shot? Something else?— Shankapotomus (@gottheshanks) September 15, 2022
As Tiger Woods and Nike once said: “Winning takes care of everything.” Sure, the UFC would absolutely have preferred for Chimaev to make weight and desiccate old-man Nate Diaz, but there’s a reason they moved things around to make sure he had a fight: He’s the next big thing. Hate it all you want, but that dude is one of the best fighters in the world, and he’s going to be a champion. So they’re only going to get so mad.
As for where he goes next, it can’t be to a title shot. Off the top of my head ,I don’t believe a fighter has ever gotten a title shot after missing weight, especially not so egregiously. Instead, the UFC does what it’s done dozens of times before: He gets another welterweight fight to prove he can make the weight, preferably on the same fight card as the Leon Edwards-Kamaru Usman trilogy bout. He makes weight, clobbers whoever he’s facing, and then fights the winner next summer. Easy game.
Did Khamzat lose any star power by the way he handled last weekend (outside dominating his fight)?— AD (@adubz123) September 15, 2022
Nope. There’s a case to be made that he lost the opportunity to gain even more star power by beating Nate, but even that seems tenuous. Truth is, he probably gained some star power, though not in ways that ultimately matter. Chimaev is probably more well-known after last weekend’s fiasco, but it won’t make people pay to watch him fight, and that’s ultimately what matters.
A lot of people have argued Chimaev’s heel turn is good for the brand and will make him a hotter commodity, broadly speaking, but I have serious doubts. For one thing, we haven’t really seen anyone pull off the “heel turn where people want to hate-watch you” thing in MMA, because it’s really hard to do. Another issue is that basically any star in the sport has been boosted by a serious rival, and based on how he fights, I don’t know when Chimaev will find one of those.
Lastly, and the biggest issue by far, is that Chimaev simply isn’t charismatic. Don’t believe me? Listen to his interviews. It’s one thing to have a gimmick and do it post-fight when the most eyes are on you. But outside of his whole “I’ll kill everyone!” stuff, there ain’t a lot of depth to that water. And that’s fine! A lot of athletes are dull blades, but you cannot become a superstar on the back of winning fights alone, and that’s going to put a cap on Chimaev’s broader appeal.
Chimaev is clearly a freak athlete and a talent we haven’t seen before. His attitude about the weight cut, being a hot head, Looking into the future, will any of this go to his head?— Yves the Hardcore Casual (@CasualYves) September 15, 2022
Can Chimaevs biggest challenge in his career be himself? Similar to Jon Jones.
Yes, but not in the way you’re referring to with Jon Jones. At least, I hope not.
Based purely on the talent, skill, and physical gifts of Chimaev, I would be flabbergasted if he never won a title. He’s the most impressive fighter I’ve ever seen, at least at this stage of his career. He has pitched perfect shutouts in five of his six UFC bouts. That’s unheard of!!! Chimaev is beating top-level competition the same way Bo Nickal wrecks random 2-0 fighters on Contender Series. I cannot stress this enough: that shouldn’t be possible. And so when he inevitably fights for the title, I will pick him to win it, and I will pick him to defend right up until the time he is beaten. Eventually he will lose, because everyone does (except Khabib). Being a dominant fighter over years and years is the hardest thing to do in sports. Eventually, you lose your edge, and then the game is lost. It happens to everyone, and it will happen to him, too. We’re all our own worst enemy.
As for the Jon Jones comparison, I’ll reserve judgment for now. I can certainly see the parallels, and it wouldn’t totally shock me if Chimaev took a similar career turn (think of UFC 279 like the infamous Jones “are you there p****?” comment), but Jones’ struggles have seemed (at least to me) to speak to some deep-seated issues, while Chimaev mostly just came off like an ass this past weekend.
With Khamzat completely botching his weight cut, plus arguably missing weight last year against Jingliang, what 170’s are signing up to fight him knowing he could miss weight, completely wasting their time and fight camp?— Fight Museum (@TheFightMuseum) September 15, 2022
Well, the line wasn’t exactly around the block to fight this dude in the first place, but that had nothing to do with him missing weight or pulling out of the fight; it was because people didn’t want to get their asses kicked, and after UFC 279, there’s going to be a lot more of that, only under the guise of “he has weight issues.”
Look, I’m not here to excuse Chimaev coming in heavier than a newborn baby, but the speed with which the MMA community has Chicken Little’d this thing is staggering. It’s literally the first time he’s missed weight! And let’s not forget that Chimaev also made 170 pounds on the nose before, and made the welterweight limit when he fought Rhys McKee on 10 days notice, after fighting at middleweight in his UFC debut. Yes, it was a bad miss, but s*** happens. Let’s see if this is a recurring issue before we start demanding he leave the division.
As for who will fight him? Anyone who wants the title, which is to say, everyone. Chimaev is going to win the welterweight belt soon, and until then, the road to the next title shot runs through him. If a 170-pound fighter wants to go for gold, they’ll have to fight Chimaev, and plenty of them will be happy to do so.
How would a Robert Whittaker vs Khamzat Chimaev fight go in your opinion?— The Combat Guy (@thecombatguy) September 16, 2022
@JedKMeshew what would happen in a fight with Yoel Romero vs Khazmat? I’d love to read your analysis. I think Yoel would be Khazmat’s kryptonite!— Simon Phoenix (@SimonPhx480) September 13, 2022
A lot of people wanted to talk about Chimaev at middleweight, but I don’t want to spend too much time on that, so I pulled out these two to discuss the two most interesting fights to me. And for what it’s worth, the obvious next fight for Chimaev is Colby Covington or, if Colby refuses, the winner of Belal Muhammad vs. Sean Brady (*cough* Brady! *cough*).
Whittaker is probably the most interesting fight possible for Chimaev. Bobby Knuckles is an elite, elite defensive wrestler, lightning quick, and just one of the best all-around fighters in the world. I would be fascinated to see if Chimaev can still ragdoll Whittaker if he gets ahold of him, and if he could even grab him in the first place. Where I think Chimaev probably beats Israel Adesanya, Whittaker could definitely hand him an L.
As for Romero, God knows I love the Soldier, but he’s 45 years old and he doesn’t do anything in fights anymore. Yes, he’s the best athlete in the history of the sport, and an Olympic silver medalist. But Romero actually wasn’t the best defensive MMA wrestler, and again, he doesn’t do anything! Chimaev does a whole lot of stuff, all the time. There’s always the world in which Romero clubs him with one big shot, but if that doesn’t land, Chimaev will outwork the man.
Nate Diaz returning to the UFC
What do you think the UFC’s interest is in resigning Nate? Now, and say if he goes and boxes and then wants to come back.— Shankapotomus (@gottheshanks) September 15, 2022
High. He’s Nate Diaz. He’s a bonafide star. They’d be stupid to not want him back, regardless of what happens in boxing. If there’s one thing Diaz has proven, it’s that losses don’t really change the way the public feels about him. Honestly, feels like they add to his charm. So if the UFC has the change to re-sign him, they will absolutely take it. The issue is whether or not Nate will want to do so. And I doubt he will.
Nate is going to go box Jake Paul next. He will make several million dollars. More than he ever made in the UFC. Depending how that goes, there’s a possible rematch, or a number of other fights outside the UFC that will draw his attention (more on this later). Nate is 37 years old. Let’s say he spends the next two years boxing, he’ll be pushing 40. Do you really think after two years of being on his own, doing his own thing and reaping those financial benefits, he’ll want to come back to the serfdom of the UFC? Even if they back up the money truck, I’m not seeing it, because by then, he’ll have his own money trucks. But I guess you never can know for sure.
Nate Diaz lottery
What's the chance of Diaz fighting for bkfc— London init geezer (@Miketyson2007) September 15, 2022
Slim to none. While BKFC has deep pockets and is willing to throw money out, Nate can make more on his own. Maybe as a one-off, if they wrote him a blank check, but I’m not seeing it. And given the way his face cuts, hopefully none of us will be seeing it either.
Do you think McGregor vs Diaz 3 will happen?— Telvin Kipapa (@telvinkipapa) September 15, 2022
100 percent. That’s the end game. It always has been.
Whatever your thoughts on Conor and Nate are as fighters or people, both of them are excellent businessmen. Nate wanted desperately to leave the UFC because there are more lucrative options for him away from it, and once he’s clear from their yoke, he gets to make all the money. And Conor sees that too.
Conor’s deal with the UFC is almost up. He only has one or two fights left with the promotion, and once that’s over, you think he doesn’t want to box Jake Paul and make $50 million? You must be outside your mind. Conor is going to return, he’s going to fight out his contract, and then he’s going to leave to box as well. First, he’ll fight Paul, because that’s the biggest payday. But once that’s over, it’s trilogy time, baby! And this time, the UFC doesn’t get a cut of the profits. After all, why have the UFC pay you pennies on the dollar when you can take the lion’s share (personally, I think Eddie Hearn’s friendship with Dana White may take a hit around this time, just a hunch)?
How do you think Tony looked against Diaz? Would you like to see him at 170 moving forward and if so, who should he fight, taking into account his five-fight skid but OG status?— Zak Kitzler (@KitzlerZak) September 16, 2022
The way the great Ariel Helwani likes his steak: well done.
Tony is fully cooked, man. There’s no other word for it. He’s old, he’s slow, he looks bad, his durability is fading, and even his cardio isn’t the same. Father Time is a bastard, but you can’t fight him off. He always wins in the end, and he’s handily defeated “El Cucuy.” I know Tony doesn’t want to hear that, and he doesn’t plan on retiring, and that’s fine. It’s his job, his life. He can do it as long as he pleases. But I hope he doesn’t plan on winning much, because that is not going to be happening.
With the state of the F/W division, does Arnold Allen get in the conversation for a shot at Alexander The Great with a convincing win vs Kattar?— Kneel or Nile? (@nialljclark) September 16, 2022
This is why Alexander Volkanovski trying to bump up to lightweight is lame: featherweight has a bunch of new contenders rising that Volko hasn’t beaten. Josh Emmett, Yair Rodriguez and the winner of this fight all are viable contenders. Clean out your own division, or abandon it altogether. That’s my view. Because while the winner of Allen-Kattar (*cough* Allen *cough*) deserves a title shot, no questions asked, they won’t get one. They’ll probably have to fight the winner of Rodriguez-Emmett. Which is a great fight, but a really s**** circumstance for all four men.
Sandhagen fights this weekend. What is his realistic ceiling? He strikes me as a perennial top 5 contender, but has struggled to this point beating the best of the best at 35. Do you think he can realize a UFC title?— Shankapotomus (@gottheshanks) September 15, 2022
Probably not, but not impossible. I think Sandhagen is one of the five best bantamweights in the world currently, and he has a fun and dangerous style that makes him a difficult fight for a lot of guys. The problem is that he’s already lost to three dudes above him, and so getting a title shot is going to be difficult. He needs to stack three wins, would be my guess. And while he absolutely can do it, he’s also on the wrong side of 30, which isn’t where you want to be for weight classes below 170 pounds.
Should Aspen Ladd move to Featherweight permanently? Or is there another avenue to follow?— Scot McCreight (@Scot_McCreight_) September 16, 2022
The UFC doesn’t have a featherweight division – they have a featherweight champion and a lie they’re selling to the public so that champion can look cooler on promotional posters. There is no 145-pound division for her to go to in the UFC. Fortunately, she shouldn’t be with the promotion for much longer. Given her history of weight struggles, the UFC should part ways with her, and then Ladd should go to the PFL. She should have no problem making the lightweight limit, and there she can have interesting fights against Larissa Pacheco, Julia Budd, and Kayla Harrison.
Who is your favorite mma journo besides yourself?— love&happiness (@twinpeeks7) September 16, 2022
Truth is, I like most of the people that work in MMA media, and I love everyone that works at MMA Fighting (great website). There is no place I’d rather be in the MMA world than right here, and I sincerely believe I’m the dumbest, least talented person on this site. It’s what makes MMA Fighting (great website) such a great website. In fact, some might say it’s the best website (*cough* click the link and vote *cough*).
But despite the unconditional love I have for everyone I work with, and the slightly more conditional love I have for a lot of other people in the space that I don’t work with, I will always have the same answer for this question: Karim Zidan.
There are better writers out there than Karim (*cough* Shaheen Al-Shatti, up for journalist of the year, follow the link *cough*), but no one in MMA media does better work on a more consistent basis than Karim does covering the dark underbelly of this sport. The things he covers are not fun or enjoyable, but they are incredibly necessary, and he’s often the only person doing them. Add in that Karim is basically the reason I’m where I am today, and I’m always going to Stan him.
But also, Petesy Carroll has my heart forever.
Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Send them to me, and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s have fun.