Chimaev defeated Kevin Holland via first-round submission at UFC 279 earlier this year. He was supposed to face Nate Diaz in the main event before badly missing weight and forcing the UFC to swap opponents.
Chimaev went from UFC fan favorite to bitter adversary in hours after his missed weight. From the ceremonial weigh-ins to his walkout and his post-fight interview, he was hit with a whirlwind of hate.
For someone like Chimaev, arguably one of the biggest stars in the UFC, dealing with animosity for the first time can be overwhelming. This time, Chimaev turned a negative into a positive and used the loud boos to invigorate him in the Octagon.
During an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Chimaev spoke about how he dealt with the hostility towards him after his UFC 279 botched weight cut.
“When everyone’s against you…your energy is going down, and they charge you again,” Chimaev said. “When somebody’s saying ‘they were never gonna be champion, they were never going to do this and that, I become crazy. I become crazy to show them I can do it…these are fans, these aren’t my family, they don’t live with me, and aren’t my problems. I do my job…
“It doesn’t matter if they do it. I’m just gonna go to the cage. Smash the guys, and they can’t do anything when I beat the guy who they love.”
As Chimaev moves closer to a potential UFC title, fans will likely continue to have mixed feelings about him. If his comments are an indication, he seems ready to deal with any cheers or jeers headed his way.
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