LAS VEGAS — Khamzat Chimaev was the villain of UFC 279 from start to finish, but he did his job Saturday in amazing fashion.
He took Kevin Holland down almost immediately after the fight began and eventually, was able to force a tap with a D'arce choke at 2:13 of the first round Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 279 at T-Mobile Arena.
Chimaev started a fight on Thursday at the news conference that led UFC president Dana White to cancel it. Then he badly missed weight on Friday and forced the UFC to change the final three bouts on the main card. Instead of facing Nate Diaz in the main event, he wound up facing Holland in the co-main.
Chimaev was defiant on the microphone and said, “I don’t care about that,” when he was asked about missing weight so badly. But he did a good job playing the heel and turning the crowd against him, so it might increase his viability as an attraction.
He closed as a -600 favorite at BetMGM, though most of the tickets were on Holland.
It was a difficult match for Holland from the start. Holland is a striker and Chimaev is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC. He literally sprinted out of the corner at the bell and dove at Holland’s legs.
Holland has spent a lot of time this year working on his takedown defense, and he was trying to fight Chimaev off. But it was just too much for him to do going against a wrestler of Chimaev’s level with no camp to prepare.
The question Chimaev will be forced to answer in the coming days is whether he’ll be able to make 170 pounds so that he could fight for the welterweight title.
He has also fought at 185, though, and said he didn’t care about weight and could fight in any weight class.