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Anthony Smith: Khamzat Chimaev should move to middleweight for ‘bigger fights’

Even if Khamzat Chimaev is among the finest fighters in the world, his future in terms of weight divisions is still uncertain.

Chimaev underwent a challenging weight cut for his UFC 279 main event matchup against Nate Diaz, but the bout had to be called off because Chimaev was 7.5 pounds over the welterweight non-title limit. Afterward, UFC President Dana White suggested Chimaev would likely be better off competing at middleweight, where he had previously competed.

Every fighter in this combat sport faces a major issue of a weight cut and plans to switch the weight class in which they feel comfortable. Anthony Smith mentioned his struggle and stated that he harmed his body for years, reducing his weight to 185 pounds, before admitting he wasn't a middleweight. Smith thinks Chimaev would be better suited to give up welterweight and concentrate solely on middleweight because he's gone through the same hardships, which would make him an even more dangerous competitor.

“Honestly, I think he should go to middleweight,” Smith said of Chimaev on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “Because he’s only getting older. He’s still a pretty young guy. He’s only going to continue to get bigger, and by taking that off of his plate, he could grow technically and athletically so much faster without having to suck his body [down].

Despite Chimaev's prior attempts to reach the welterweight limit, including his fight with Gilbert Burns in May, further weight reduction may eventually harm him. Chimaev is also not undersized in comparison to other top-ranked middleweights, which is another plus. In contrast, Robert Whittaker, a former champion, is overshadowed by Chimaev by three inches in height and two inches more in reach.

“Did you see the wrestling match between Chimaev and Jack Hermansson?” Smith remarked. “Did you see the size of that goddamn guy? Jack Hermansson is not a small middleweight and [Chimaev] was significantly larger. I would suspect that his entire training camp is focused on getting his weight down. That’s unfortunate.”

Outside the need to lose weight to go up to 185 pounds, Smith sees a lot of opportunities for Chimaev, including the chance to capitalize on bigger, blockbuster fights. As the five-time defending champion, Israel Adesanya currently wields an iron grasp over the UFC middleweight division. Adesanya will challenge former GLORY champion Alex Pereira at UFC 281 for the championship in a contest between two of the greatest strikers to ever enter an octagon.


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