clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dana White whiffs at chance to head off more conflict between Khamzat Chimaev and Team Khabib

The UFC President barely reacted to Khamzat Chimaev’s scuffle with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin at UFC 280.

Khamzat Chimaev has seen his stock rise in the UFC off the back of dominating, and brutal, performances inside the cage. Now on path for a UFC title shot, it seems like ‘Borz’ is as interested in crafting a ‘Notorious’ reputation outside of the cage as he is inside of it.

Just like we saw with Conor McGregor a half-decade ago, as Chimaev’s profile has risen in the sport so have the number of incidents and altercations involving him.

Chimaev was cited as the cause for the chaotic brawl at the UFC 279 press conference that forced UFC President Dana White to cancel the event. And now, at last night’s UFC 280, video footage has emerged of security needing to restrain Chimaev after an apparent scuffle between him and Abubakar Nurmagomedov (cousin to Khabib Nurmagomedov).

Nurmagomedov competed at UFC 280, beating Gadzhi Omaregadzhiev. The incident seemed to take place after that fight. He and Chimaev have history.

In 2021 when Chimaev was bro-ing it up with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov (one of many such occasions), Chimaev said on an Instagram Live that he would ‘smash’ Khabib Nurmagomedov.

That lead to a response from Abubakar Nurmagomedov, who called out Chimaev’s flip-flopping on life in his homeland.

“I see you quickly changed your shoes,” wrote Nurmagomedov. “After moving to Sweden and writing a complaint against your own Chechen Republic that you are being infringed upon, you received documents for a good life in Sweden. But now, having gained fame, you, I see, have changed. Now you have come back and live in Chechnya, and everything is fine with you. I’m happy for you. Don’t lose this comfort zone.”

“Not long ago in America, you sat at the same table with us and ate, trained in the same gym, went to the Mosque together and called us brothers,” continued Nurmagomedov. “And now you write that you will tear someone up. Yes, I agree, everyone has the right to express their opinion. But be careful with your statements.”

More recently Khabib Nurmagomedov also criticized Chimaev, blaming Chimaev’s botched weigh-in at UFC 279 (which lead to a last minute opponent change for half the main card) on him not having “good, strong people” around him and specifically not having Muslims in his camp (which is not true).

UFC President Dana White was asked his thoughts on the Chimaev vs. Nurmagomedov scuffle (surely a sign of things to come, if not managed properly). His response left a lot to be desired.

“What do I even say about that?” White said (ht MMA Fighting). “It happens, especially with [Khamzat]. It happens.”

So “is normal”, basically. Sounds very similar to how White addressed controversies surrounding both Conor McGregor and Jon Jones in the past — two men whose outside the cage behaviour now overshadows anything they’ve accomplished in the sport.

Obviously, White could be addressing the situation differently behind-the-scenes, but the public message very much seems to be “fighters gonna fight”.

The only other comment White offered on the scuffle was one intended to shirk any responsibility for Chimaev having such close access to Nurmagomedov on fight night.

“He was sitting on our side. I didn’t even know Khamzat was coming tonight. He was invited here by Abu Dhabi. So the seats behind me here in Abu Dhabi are owned by Abu Dhabi.”

Chimaev fought for the UFC last month, improving his pro record to 12-0. Since joining the promotion in 2020, White has touted the Chechen-born Swede as a future champion and star of the company.