Dana White | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
On Saturday night at UFC 273, Chimaev won a unanimous decision over Gilbert Burns in a hard-fought contest. In contrast to his previous UFC bouts, Chimaev had a difficult time with Burns, losing the second round and and the fight in some fans’ eyes. The end result was a “Fight of the Year” candidate and, according to UFC President Dana White, one of the best fights ever.
“It’s one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, it’s one of the coolest fights I’ve ever been to,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “The place was so loud, and people were going crazy. That fight was eclipsing the co-main and main event all week, and I was talking to [UFC commentator Joe] Rogan, and [UFC matchmaker] Sean [Shelby], and [UFC matchmaker] Mick [Maynard], and everyone else, think about this: when is the last time you saw a guy come out of nowhere, nobody knows who he is, then fights a couple fights and then fights the No. 2-ranked guy in the world and wins? When you get into the top-5 in the UFC, it’s no joke, man. Especially in that division. That division is straight killers. Tonight was a big test for him and he passed.”
Chimaev did get the win, but MMA fans are harsh critics. Given the massive amount of hype surrounding him coming into this fight, and the fact that he was a huge betting favorite over Burns, some fans were to quick to claim that Chimaev had been exposed as another hype job, after struggling against Burns, a notion that Dana White finds ludicrous.
“Well he’s human, White said. “Any a****** that said that doesn’t think he’s human. He’s a human being and he just beat the No. 2 welterweight in the world with a couple of fights in the UFC. If you don’t think he’s the real deal, you’re out of your mind. Yeah, he’s human.
“Till keeps telling me, ‘This guy never gets tired, he never runs out of energy,’ but you can’t train in a gym for what happened tonight. You can’t. I’m sure this week, leading up to this week, he’s had a ton of pressure on him, a lot of anxiety, who knows how well he slept last night, all the things that go into the buzz and energy. And I’m sure there was a huge adrenaline dump after that first round. This is s*** you can’t train for, and you either make it through it or you don’t. He made it through with flying colors.”
Next up for Chimaev appears to be a bout with one-time interim champion and top contender Colby Covington. Before UFC 273, White said that was the fight the company would target if Chimaev got past Burns, potentially as the main event for a card on ABC, and with Chimaev having taken care of business, White still believes that’s the fight to make.
“I don’t know, but it’s big,” White said. You saw tonight. We’re in Jacksonville, Fla., with a Russian and Brazilian [as] the biggest fight of the night, and everybody’s going crazy, so I think it’s a big fight.”