Undefeated welterweight phenom Khamzat Chimaev, a decorated wrestling champion known to rag-doll fighters in higher weight classes, went from grappling dynamo to sloppy kickboxer in the second round of his Gilbert Burns fight at UFC 273, a strategy that did not sit well with Allstars MMA coach Andreas Michael.
“People ask me what I told Khamzat at the end of Round 2, this is what I told him: Stop brawling, stop having a street fight, use your straight punches and keep it easy,” Michael wrote on Instagram. “This is an easy fight if you don’t brawl, all you have to do is keep him on your jab and have patience. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.”
Chimaev was a clear betting favorite for their April 9 showdown in Jacksonville but struggled to finish the gritty “Durinho” during their “Fight of the Night” war in “The Sunshine State,” partly because “Borz” abandoned his gameplan in favor of balls-to-the-wall action but mostly because Burns is top-ranked welterweight with tremendous heart.
“I told him to stop giving everyone a show and just keep it boring and simple, to not force anything just be fast and light on his feet,” Michael continued. “This was the gameplan all along. Easier than wrestling and easier than grappling. In flashes we saw that. Gilbert with all respect is a tough, gritty, and brave warrior. All the love and respect to him. These guys gave a show to the public. But as a coach I don’t care about the public, I care about the easiest way to the WIN with the minimum damage. That’s my number one job, to protect the fighter.”
Chimaev improved to 11-0 with the victory but went to the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his young MMA career. There was talk from UFC President Dana White about pairing “Borz” with two-time title challenger and No. 1-ranked welterweight contender Colby Covington later this year; however, that all depends on when “Chaos” plans to make his Octagon return.