UFC: Khamzat Chimaev Hints at Retirement as COVID Struggle Continues

Khamzat Chimaev, UFC Fight Island 3
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 26: Khamzat Chimaev of Czechia celebrates after his TKO victory over Rhys McKee of Northern Ireland in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 26, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Khamzat Chimaev, the breakout star of 2020 for the UFC, may be done as a professional fighter.

In a social media post Monday, the welterweight/middleweight, who tore through a trio of opponents last year (two in record time, with the shortest turnaround between wins in UFC history), hinted at retirement. Chimaev’s struggle following a diagnosis of COVID-19 has been well documented, but the news still comes as a shock.

“I want to say thank you to everyone for their support in my journey in this sport. I think I’m done. yes, I know that I didn’t take the belt, but this is not the most important victory in this life. it may upset you, but my heart and body tell me everything.

I want to say a huge thank you to my team All Stars Gym Sweden.

Chimaev (9-0) was previously diagnosed with COVID-19, which forced him out of a planned welterweight headliner with Leon Edwards earlier this year. While Edwards himself had contracted the virus a month earlier, Chimaev appears to be particularly hindered by the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Edwards, meanwhile, returns to the octagon later this month against Belal Muhammad.

A screen grab from Chimaev’s Instagram story showed what appeared to be blood coughed up the by the fighter, and a message noting that the disease “is not easily outlived.”

Previously, Chimaev’s manager shared news that at one point, the Swedish-based fighter believed he was dying. “Borz” has been unable to train at the level required since contracting the disease.

The 26-year old, whose nickname means “The Chechen Wolf” in English, debuted in the UFC last July, defeating John Phillips with a D’arce choke in the second round. Just ten days later, he secured his second victory, finishing Rhys McKee via TKO within a round. His third fight also set a record — finishing Gerald Meerschaert via knockout in just 17 seconds, it was all of 66 days between Chimaev’s first three wins, the quickest any UFC fighter has made it to three straight victories.

From there, bouts with Demian Maia and Edwards were mulled. The Edwards fight was set for December, then pushed back repeatedly when both fighters contracted COVID-19.

There is still hope, of course, that Chimaev makes a full recovery and can eventually return to training and fighting full time. For now, however, it appears he believes that may not be possible.