MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz has said that surging welterweight star Khamzat Chimaev is set to return to action this summer after spending time “plotting” on the sidelines after backtracking on his recent retirement announcement.
After bursting through the UFC door with three impressive winsin the span of just 66 days last year, Chimaev’s speedy ascent through the 170lbs ranks hit a roadblock late last year when a Covid-19 diagnosis scuppered a scheduled fight with top-ranked contender Leon Edwards on three separate occasions.
But for an athlete as active as Chimaev, sitting idle doesn’t come naturally. According to UFC boss Dana White, Chimaev’s recovery from his infection was hampered by his reticence for rest and recuperation prescribed to him by doctors, and his continual training while in recovery from the virus was to his detriment.
So overwhelming was Chimaev’s illness that reports online indicated that his team were concerned at points for his wellbeing – but the Chechen-born Swede shocked the MMA community earlier this month by appearing to announce his retirement online.
“Thank you all so much for supporting me in my journey in this sport,” Chimaev wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post. “I think I’m done.“
White, though, appears to have a general reluctance when it comes to fighters of Russian descent retiring from the UFC and explained his take of Chimaev’s situation to MMA Junkie.
“When he got here, the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone which is a nasty f***ing steroid,” White said.
“He’s supposed to be taking this thing and chilling, relaxing, and letting himself recover. He went in and f*cking trained today, felt like sh*t, and got super emotional and posted that.
“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 has also since confirmed that he will return to action before long – and that may come as soon as this summer after Dominance MMA chief Abdelaziz noted online that his client is “hungry” and will be “coming to you in the summer“.
The fighter himself endorsed Abdelaziz’s post, republishing it on his Instagram account along with the word “soon“.
While the 26-year-old had appeared to have been knocking on the door of the welterweight elite in 2020, his recent health woes outside of the cage which led to the crumbling of the Edwards fight most likely means that Chimaev will be forced to look down the rankings in order to galvanize his career.
But as he proved last year, it might not take long – perhaps even just a few weeks – for the confident Chimaev to get an opportunity to prove his point that he is the world’s best welterweight fighter.