At the beginning of March, undefeated UFC prospect Khamzat Chimaev announced on social media that he may be “done” with professional fighting. The 26-year-old competitor had been dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19, which he contracted in late 2020.
But last week, Chimaev backtracked and declared his return to competition.
In a recent conversation with RT Sport, the Chechnya-born fighter clarified what happened during those times of uncertainty. First, he went on to admit he was overrun by emotions, which triggered him to make the statements that he did.
“Those were emotional words. I was sick for two months and could not recover from that. It was too long,” he said. “I have already said it in a number of interviews — I was feeling sick, stressed by the fact I could not fight, could not even train. That’s why I posted it.
“It wasn’t like I gave my word that I would retire. I said, ‘Maybe it’s over for me.’ Maybe it’s over, maybe it’s not. I don’t know.
“We don’t know what the Almighty prepared for us. Maybe I will die tomorrow. Maybe something will happen to my opponent, and the fight will be postponed. I don’t know. Everything at the will of the Almighty.”
Chimaev also explained why he immediately went back to training despite not being fully healed yet. According to him, he got the green light from UFC doctors.
“I was doing good at first then they told me that I could start cardio training. And I felt sick again,” he explained. “I went to the bathroom and started coughing up blood. That just messed up my mind a bit.
“Honestly, it scared me… Cancer? Like, ‘I’ve been sick for so long, why doesn’t it go away?’ Different thoughts were going through my mind. Plus, I was alone there in Las Vegas, struggling to overcome it all.”
Chimaev’s coaches revealed alarming details about his health status at the time, stating the young fighter thought he was on the brink of death. Now seemingly recovered, he’s ready to get back in the swing of things.
“I just didn’t want (my team) to tell anybody. But it’s been said already, so there’s nothing to do about it,” he said.
“Some people die because of that disease. But I didn’t. I am still here, unfortunately for my opponents.”
Before his “retirement” announcement, Chimaev was looking towards a possible fight against Neil Magny in June. At this point, he says the matchup is a mere “rumor,” but he intends to keep himself active like how he did in 2020.
“If you are in shape, training all the time, why should you wait for two, three, four months? When I am fit and injury-free, I can fight once a week.”