If Khamzat Chimaev’s coach had his way, Khamzat Chimaev’s UFC 273 bout opposite Gilbert Burns would have looked a lot different.
“The plan was to just box him,” Andreas Michael said on The MMA Hour. “Keep the jab going because that’s the way to handle that situation. He did absolutely everything we didn’t work on and he just wanted to show the people, ‘Listen, I’m here, I’m gonna walk through this guy.’ But there’s a reason these guys are there. The No. 2, No. 1, champions, they’re there because they’re f—ng tough. They’re some tough dudes, respect to them. So if you understand that and that comes with experience, if you understand that then you have the patience to handle that situation and that will make you maybe finish him in one or two rounds, but you need that patience and that patience comes with experience. Remember, Khamzat has nearly never gone past the first round.”
Khamzat Chimaev, who was unbeaten in 10 pro fights, was the No. 11 ranked fighter in the official UFC welterweight rankings heading into that April 9 contest. Burns, who was coming off a win over former two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson, was ranked No. 2. As Michael noted, most of Khamzat Chimaev’s fights up to that point had ended quickly. His lengthiest outing came in 2019 when he went 1:15 into the second stanza against Mzwandile Hlongwa in a Brave CF contest. Chimaev’s longest UFC fight came in his debut when it took him until the 1:12 mark of the second round to submit John Phillips.
Michael said he let his fighter know he was not happy that Khamzat Chimaev deviated from the game plan they had put together before the fight.
“I got very upset and I just told him, ‘Listen. We’ve been working for this for, like, 10 weeks. Stop jeopardizing this because you want to show everyone you’re the man. Understand? You are the man, but keep it simple. Keep your jab going. Keep it to what we’ve been working on,’” Michael said. “And at the end of the day we say, nobody’s going to love — well, I’m not saying nobody — but people love a winner. So just win the f—ng fight.
“I don’t remember Jon Jones’ fights in his last part of his career. They haven’t been spectacular, but nobody remembers that. You look at Sherdog and you see win, win, win, win, win, win, win. At the end of the day, that’s what people remember, sad to say. They love a winner and they forget about a loser. I’m not saying I’m pushing him to do boring fights. What I’m saying is to do more intelligent fights. And he has the ability.”
For all the risks he took against Burns, Khamzat Chimaev walked away with the win, his perfect record (11-0) intact and his first UFC “Fight of the Night” bonus. The 27-year-old also made his way to the No. 3 spot in the official UFC 170-pound rankings after his unanimous decision triumph over Burns.
As critical as he was of his student’s performance, Michael knows the Burns scrap was an invaluable experience for the still developing fighter.
“He’s a work in progress,” Michael said. “A lot of people talking a lot of s—t, talking out of their asses, you know? You can’t make everyone happy. If he knocked the guy out in two seconds, they would have said, ‘But his conditioning.’ ‘He doesn’t have heart.’ ‘He has to be tested.’ ‘He has to be this.’ So you can’t make everyone happy.
“Of course, I didn’t like the way that he wanted to knock the guy out and show everyone, ‘Look, I’m just gonna walk through this guy as well,’ because we had a game plan. And the game plan was that he should just keep it simple. And Khamzat is very talented in striking, but of course he needs a lot of experience. Experience is what he was lacking that evening and that’s what he got. A lot of experience, the hard way.”
UFC president Dana White had said he wanted to match up Khamzat Chimaev and No. 1 ranked Colby Covington if Chimaev won at UFC 273. There has been no news of that fight since Khamzat Chimaev’s win over Burns.
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