Nate Diaz’s representative Zach Rosenfield had denied a recent claim by Khamzat Chimaev that Ramzan Kadyrov, the dictator at the helm of Russia’s Chechnya region, offered Diaz an extra $2 million to accept their UFC 279 bout at a catchweight.
“There is no truth to this,” Rosenfield told BloodyElbow, adding that the two fighters only interacted during the UFC 279 press conference scuffle that took place backstage.
Chimaev’s claim stems from a recent interview with the Captain Hardcore YouTube channel, where the Chechen-born UFC star stated that Kadyrov attempted to incentivize Diaz to stay in the fight after Chimaev failed to make the 170 lbs. weight limit for their welterweight headliner.
“Ramzan Akhmatovich called me and said he would give Nate $2 million to agree to the fight,” Chimaev said during the interview, which took place at the Tiger Muay Thai training facility in Phuket, Thailand. “I told Diaz, but he still refused. He didn’t want to fight me and just found another option.”
Diaz went on to defeat Tony Ferguson in the UFC 279 main event, while Chimaev bested Kevin Holland in a catchweight bout. Kadyrov praised the Swedish-based fighter following his dominant performance, stating that ““Chimaev absolutely does not worry about his weight…He just goes out, wins, dictates his conditions in the octagon and puts things in order.”
Chimaev emerged as one of Kadyrov’s favorite fighters following an impressive start to his UFC tenure that saw him earn back-to-back wins in the span of ten days—a feat that broke the record for the quickest turnaround between UFC victories in the modern era. Since then, Chimaev has routinely visited Chechnya to spend time with Kadyrov, as well as to train at Akhmat MMA, the dictator’s personal fight club that was placed under U.S. Treasury sanction in 2020.
The UFC contender has also become a regular presence around Kadyrov’s three teenage sons, whom he spars with and accompanies on trips abroad. The teenagers attended UFC 280 alongside Chimaev and one was even pictured with UFC president Dana White. Later, when Chimaev got into a scuffle with Team Khabib member Abubakar Nurmagomedov, it was Kadyrov who stepped in to mediate the dispute.
Chimaev also moonlights as a coach for Kadyrov’s sons. The teenagers joined him at recent training camps in Dubai, as well as the renowned Tiger Muay Thai training facility in Phuket, Thailand, where they were pictured training alongside other UFC fighters such as former champ Petr Yan and Muhammad Mokaev. Chimaev also cornered Kadyrov’s son Ali during the 16-year-old’s first professional MMA fight in December 2022—an obviously fixed fight that took place in Kadyrov’s own MMA organization, Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA).
Beyond his well-documented association with Kadyrov and his family, Chimaev continues to praise and promote the Chechen dictator on his social media accounts. Among his most recent Instagram posts is a picture of Kadyrov strolling through a park in Chechnya along with the caption: The best of the best.
About the author: Karim Zidan is an investigative reporter for Bloody Elbow focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. His is also a contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian. (full bio)