UFC middleweight Kevin Holland has insinuated that Khamzat Chimaev’s battle with the lingering effects of Covid stem from the Russian-born star not having “heart” – citing his own comparatively light brush with the illness.
Chimaev was forced to pull out of his headline welterweight match-up with Leon Edwards on March 13 as he continues to struggle with health issues brought on by a coronavirus infection.
It was the third time the bout had fallen through and Edwards will now face Belal Muhammad – while Chimaev has been flown to the US so that he can receive medical care at the UFC’s provision.
Chimaev’s manager, Majdi Shammas, earlier said that the Swedish-based star “thought he was going to die” after suffering ill-effects despite resuming training.
However, appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience, American middleweight Holland – who has been labeled ‘Big Mouth’ by UFC boss Dana White – showed a distinct lack of sympathy for his fellow fighter.
“It’s very unfortunate that he’s got this long-term situation,” Rogan had said of Chimaev – only for Holland to later dismiss that notion.
“You say it’s sad that he had Covid… but they said I had Covid, and if we’re supposed to be athletes it’s like, ‘get the f*ck over it,’” said Holland, who had been forced out of a December 5 middleweight headliner with Jack Hermansson due to a positive Covid test of his own, before returning to defeat Jacare Souza on December 12.
“But you obviously had a mild version of it, he’s had it months,” Rogan replied with somewhat more sympathy to Chimaev’s plight.
“My girl had it pretty good and I was f*cking her the whole time, so we all take it different,” Holland responded.
“Different fighters, different heart. Don’t claim to have the heart if you haven’t got it… The ‘flu sucks, Michael Jordan still went out there and won. Difference.”
The pair agreed that it was “sad” that Chimaev had missed out on the chance to face the number three-ranked Edwards – before Holland appeared to feign fear over the prospect of potentially facing Chimaev somewhere down the line.
“I don’t wanna fight that guy, he’s a monster, he’s undefeated, he’s a mini Khabib,” Holland said, before adding with a laugh, “yeah, I’ll take it.”
He added: “But the boss [Dana White] has said that we’re in two different weight classes, and that we’d probably never meet up. So I’m assuming he’ll stay at 170lbs and I’m staying at 185lbs.
“Maybe one day when he gets over being a little tired he can get back in there and get some fights in.”
Holland enjoyed a remarkable 2020, winning five fights in the space of just eight months.
That improved the former Dana White’s Contender Series star to 21-5 overall, with US veteran Derek Brunson next up on March 20.
The undefeated Chimaev enjoyed a similarly spectacular 2020, bursting onto the UFC scene with three wins in the space of just 66 days – two at welterweight and one at middleweight.
The chance to extend that momentum in a big step up against Edwards was then thwarted by his Covid diagnosis and its aftereffects.
Chimaev’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has targeted a potential comeback at some point before June for the man known as ‘Borz’.