Just as UFC fans were coming to terms with their shock at Khamzat Chimaev’s pained retirement announcement, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has claimed that he has convinced the rising star to stay in the sport with a personal call.
Unbeaten MMA sensation Chimaev admitted defeat in his bid to return from Covid-19 complications on Tuesday, stunning supporters who had watched him rapidly become one of the promotion’s most hotly-tipped fighters before being forced to call off a succession of bouts while he struggled to recover from illness.
UFC president Dana White had insisted that Chimaev, who he justifiably regards as one of the most exciting and promising stars in his promotion, had been driven to make the announcement by emotions, outlining plans to help the Chechen-born Swede return to full fighting health by the summer.
Now Kadyrov has stepped in with a stirring Instagram post, reassuring the fighter’s vast fanbase that national spirit and their backing would inspire Chimaev to win a UFC title, accompanying the post with a screenshot which appeared to show the 26-year-old smilling as he took part in the call.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, posted on his IG this morning that he spoke to Khamzat Chimaev and essentially convinced him to not retire. “He remains and will fight to the end,” the post states, per the IG translator. (h/t @wwlmma) pic.twitter.com/aI0HEX1QIB
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 2, 2021
“I told him that all the Chechen people were upset by this news,” said Kadyrov, adding that “millions of fans in Russia and the world” and “our young people who he inspires” were pinning their hopes on Chimaev.
“Khamzat said that the recovery from illness is slow and, trying to be honest and frank with the fans, he decided not to give them hope.
“If fans need to wait for his return, then we will all look forward to his entry into the octagon with trepidation and patience.”
this story just gets wilder and wilder
— Mike (Now with 2 vaccinations!) 🇵🇷🇺🇸 (@MikeThe4th) March 2, 2021
It was Dana disguising his voice.
— Jeff (@SgtTomorrow) March 2, 2021
“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.”
Many fans reiterated their concerns that Chimaev, who had been seen coughing up blood in his continuing battle to overcome the virus, would rush back too quickly.
Not fighting would be better than losing, so I think that if he will say that he’s not ready to fight, Kadyrov won’t force him
— MB (@smeshbrother) March 2, 2021
If he takes March and most of April to recover he’ll be just fine to go in June. Sounds like he has difficulty listening to his doctors and just taking it easy.
— Joe (@JoeCoe4Life) March 2, 2021
The powerhouse has earned notoriety for his rapidfire wins since the outset of his UFC career, but White had voiced his frustration at what he believed had been a case of the athlete attempting to spar before his body was ready.
“Not fighting would be better than losing,” said one fan. “I think that if he will say that he’s not ready to fight, Kadyrov won’t force him.”
Another speculated: “If he takes March and most of April to recover, he’ll be just fine to go in June. Sounds like he has difficulty listening to his doctors and just taking it easy.”