Why Gilbert Burns wants to see Khamzat Chimaev return to welterweight

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – One half of the potential Fight of the Year for 2022 would like to see his opponent remain in the same weight class, despite a huge blunder on the scale recently.

Gilbert Burns has a history with Khamzat Chimaev, as the two men battled it out in an instant classic at UFC 273 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in April. The fight is high on most lists for the best of the year, as it was one of those battles that elevated both fighters’ profiles, despite Chimaev walking away with the decision win.

At UFC 279, Chimaev was set to raise his stock even higher when he was set to meet Nate Diaz in the main event of the pay-per-view event. Instead, he missed weight by 7.5 pounds, causing a last-minute shuffle of the top three bouts of the event. Although Chimaev went on to quickly finish Kevin Holland, Burns thinks its time his former opponent addresses some things.

“It doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish,” Burns told MMA Junkie at Kill Cliff Fight Club. “It don’t matter if that guy starts so big, so impressive. It matters how you finish, you know? … I don’t know, the fans might like all the drama; the not making weight, canceling your press conference, a lot of things. It’s hard to feel bad for this guy that’s making a lot of mistakes on just the beginning of his career.”

“One of the best advice I’ve had is to have guys that give you advice. Like, I have guys that give me advice on money, my parents give me advice on family, I have guys that give me advice on fighting, I have my manager – I have a lot of guys that give me advice in my life. He needs those kind of guys, not just a bunch of crazy fighters that kind of go on his ego and make him go crazy. I think he’s still super young and I hope he changes. Khabib (Nurmagomedov) even said one thing, he needs more Muslims. With that being said, translating that, he needed good guys around him. Like good mentors, guys to help him out, making decisions. I think the guys he has around don’t help him make good decisions.


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Following the weight miss debacle, there have been a number of calls for Chimaev to move up to middleweight. UFC president Dana White and the promotion’s matchmakers are torn on how to proceed.

Ultimately, Burns hopes Chimaev doesn’t make a permanent move. Not only would he like to run it back with Chimaev one day, he thinks he has the potential to do big things if he makes a few changes.

“I hope so,” Burns said about Chimaev remaining at welterweight. “I know a lot of guys were celebrating that he’s going up. No, I want him to stay at 170. I think he can stay, just got to be disciplined, (but) it’s not just discipline. If you sign a contract and you put your name on it, you sign it, you gotta own it. You gotta be a man.

“I think he’s just too young. A lot of hype, a lot of things. … I lost a couple of fights because I had a very bad weight cut, but I still make the weight, you know? I don’t know, he’s just got to man up. Make sure he gets good mentors, good managers, good coaches, and people that gonna tell him the truth and help him be the best he can be, and honor the contract when he signs it.”

Burns vs. Chimaev: Fight of the Year? - Powered By PickUp

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie