In a stunning turn of events no one saw coming, it appeared as if Khamzat Chimaev had retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) after he posted a curious message on Instagram, suggesting he was “done” before thanking his team, as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
“I want to thank you all so much for supporting me in my journey in this sport,” he wrote on social media. “I think I’m done. Yes, I know I didn’t take the belt but it is not the most important victory in this life.
“It may upset you but my heart and body tell me everything,” he continued. “I want to say a big thank you to my team All Star Gym Sweden and I want to say a big thank you to UFC.”
Chimaev has been battling COVID-19 since contracting the virus in late 2020. The virus has forced “Borz” to bow out of a proposed Welterweight fight against Leon Edwards on two occasions. Initially, it was Edwards who contracted coronavirus first, which prompted the first of a total of three canceled attempts to make the fight happen.
As a result of his ongoing health issues, UFC officials flew Chimaev out to Las Vegas, Nevada, to get the medical care he needed. And while his manager did state that Chimaev’s first priority was to get his health back to full speed, he did also say he was targeting a return to action later this summer.
A few hours after “Borz” posted the message on social media, Dana White revealed he had a talk with Chimaev and insisted that after their conversation he would not be retiring.
“When he got here, the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone, which is a nasty f—king steroid,” White told MMA Junkie. “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—king trained today, felt like s—t, and got super emotional and posted that.
“He’s not supposed to be training, but you know, this guy’s a savage,” White continued. “He wants to fight like every f—king weekend, and now he can’t even train, so he just got emotional and posted that, but he ain’t quitting.”
“Borz” — who is just 26 years old — burst onto the UFC scene in July 2020 after defeating John Phillips via submission at UFC Fight Island 1. He then competed 10 days later, knocking out Rhys McKee in the first round at UFC Fight Island 3. He then followed up that pair of dominant performances with a 17-second knockout victory over Gerald Meerschaert two months later (see it again here).
His run was enough to capture the eye of White, who repeatedly expressed his excitement at just what the up-and-coming contender could accomplish in the future. Chimaev also caught the attention of top UFC contenders who felt he hadn’t faced anyone of quality to be getting so much praise.
For now, it seems Chimaev will keep fighting, but still has a tough battle ahead of him before he can step back into the cage.