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


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

UFC 279 was supposed to be a crowning moment for Chimaev. This was Chimaev’s first major event. He was facing one of the most prominent stars of the sport. There was hope that “Borz”, a winner, would propel him into the next tier of superstardom.

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. He lost his head a 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 sure 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 competed in the welterweight as well as middleweight divisions during his UFC career. He maintains that he wants to be able to fight at each weight. 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 is aware of who I am, and so are his coaches, managers, and the men. They don’t want to fight him. The guys want to fight Kevin Holland, small guys, Gilbert [Burns]. “HT0_ I like those guys Gilbert and Holland. But he picks whom he wants to fight.”