In the space of 24 hours, rising UFC star Khamzat Chimaev indicated that he was done fighting, but then was talked into continuing on by controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. UFC president Dana White also backed that sentiment, telling MMA Junkie that Chimaev “ain’t quitting.”
Chimaev’s UFC career was off to a brilliant start in 2020. The Chechen fighter rattled off three consecutive victories in three months. He was then slated to face highly ranked welterweight Leon Edwards, a massive opportunity.
That fight fell apart because Edwards and then Chimaev tested positive for COVID-19. The UFC attempted to reschedule it at least twice, but was thwarted on both occasions because of Chimaev’s ongoing health struggles in his recovery from COVID-19.
On Monday, he appeared to have decided he was done trying to return to the Octagon.
He wrote on Instagram, “I want to say thank you to everyone for their support in my path in this sport. I think I’m done. Yes, I know that I didn’t take the belt, but this is not the most important victory in this life. It may upset you, but my heart and body tell me everything.”
That appeared to be the end of it. Then, on Tuesday, Kadyrov posted a message via the Visit Chechnya Instagram account, in which he said that he talked Chimaev out of retiring. He urged the fighter to continue on.
“Friends, you’ve probably already heard the news about Khamzat Chimaev, who announced his departure from the UFC in his account. Not believing my eyes, I called and talked to Chimaev,” Kadyrov wrote.
“Khamzat said that recovery from illness is slow, and in an attempt to be honest and frank with the fans, he decided not to give them hope. I told him that ALL the Chechen people were upset by this news. I reminded Chimaev that all our young people, whom he inspires, are pinning great hopes on his victory, but what can I say – MILLIONS OF FANS IN RUSSIA AND THE WORLD! And if fans need to wait for his return, then we will all look forward to his entry into the octagon with trepidation and patience.
“During our conversation, Chimaev realized how important his career is for every Chechen and promised to make every effort to recover as soon as possible. In the near future, he will fly to the republic, where he will complete a rehabilitation course, hold a training camp and start training.
And this means that Khamzat does not leave, HE REMAINS AND WILL BEAT TO THE END!
“The heart and body whispered ‘everything!’ That is how Khamzat wrote on Instagram. But the Chechen SPIRIT and the will to win shout to him ‘Forward!’ Therefore, I know for sure that Khamzat will take the UFC belt and prove that he is the best of the best!”
Chimaev has yet to comment since he and Kadyrov’s posts went public. UFC president Dana White, however, told MMA Junkie, “When (Chimaev) got (to UFC headquarters in Las Vegas), the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone, which is a nasty f—ing steroid. So he’s on prednisone, and he’s supposed to be taking this thing and chilling, relaxing, and letting himself recover. He went in and f—ing trained today, felt like s–t, and got super emotional and posted (his retirement).
“He’s not supposed to be training, but you know, this guy’s a savage. He wants to fight like every f—ing weekend, and now he can’t even train, so he just got emotional and posted that, but he ain’t quitting.”
Chimaev was most recently scheduled to fight Edwards on March 13. When he wasn’t physically able to train for the bout, Edwards was re-booked opposite Belal Muhammad for the same date.
It is unclear how soon Chimaev might be able to return to the Octagon.
Dana White praises Khamzat Chimaev: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life”
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