When Khamzat Chimaev reeled off three quick wins inside the Octagon last year he didn’t just become a favourite of UFC President Dana White. The Chechnya-born Swede also drew the attention of Chechen Dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.
Though Chimaev has been out of MMA action for almost a year, due largely to a serious bout of COVID-19, he has remained in Kadyrov’s good graces. Since impressing in the UFC Chimaev has returned to Chechnya and visited with Kadryov, leading to numerous of social media posts featuring the pair.
During an Instagram live broadcast with Kadyrov, Chimaev remarked that he would ‘smash’ former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. This comment came at a time when the relationship between ‘The Eagle’ and Kadyrov seemed to have cooled.
Nurmagomedov’s cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov responded to that comment and told Chimaev he should ‘be careful’ with his words.
Now Chimaev seems to be trying to walk back any animosity between him and Nurmagomedov. In an interview with FrontKick.online Chimaev praised Nurmagomedov and insisted there was no beef between them.
“This guy [Khabib], we looked up to him beginning and now still look up to him,” said Chimaev (ht MMA News). “He (became) a champ, he’s one of the best fighters in the world. And people think I hate him. I love him because he’s Muslim. I’m Muslim. He come from some village like me, same country, same small Republic, like Chechnya, Dagestan. It’s the same. I have a lot of brothers from Dagestan. He’s Muslim, I’m Muslim, we’re brothers.
“I answered to some bullshit guy, but nobody knows him. It’s my (mistake) because I answer for him. He said like, ‘Khabib gonna smash you…’ If somebody say to you, ‘He gonna smash you,’ of course I’m gonna answer it like, ‘No, nobody gonna smash me. I’m gonna smash everybody. If you a real man, you have to think like that.”
Chimaev is due to return to the cage on October 30 at UFC 267. There, in Abu Dhabi, he is expected to meet Li Jingliang in a welterweight contest.