UFC star Khamzat Chimaev persuaded not to retire by Chechen dictator

Khamzat Chimaev looks set to continue his mixed martial arts career after being persuaded not to retire by Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chimaev, hailed as one of the best prospects in UFC, made an emotional announcement last night that he planned to hang up his gloves.

The 26-year-old, who is scheduled to fight in June, said he had struggled to recover after contracting Covid-19.

But UFC president Dana White immediately played down his fighter's comments, and he has now been backed up by the head of the  Chechen Republic.

Writing on social media, Kadyrov said: "Friends, you've probably already heard the news about Khamzat Chimaev, who announced his retirement from UFC on his account.

"I couldn't believe my eyes, I called and talked to Chimaev. Khamzat said recovery from illness was slow and, in an attempt to be honest and frank with fans, he decided not to discourage them.

"I told him that the WHOLE Chechen people were upset with this news. I reminded Chimaev that all our youth, whom he inspires, have great hopes for his victory.

"And if fans have to wait for his return, then all of us will be anxiously awaiting his entry into the octagon. During our conversation, Chimaev realized how important his career is to every Chechen citizen and promised to make every effort to recover as soon as possible.

"In the near future, he will fly to the Republic, where he will finish the rehabilitation course, conduct training and start training."

Chimaev announced his arrival in the UFC last year with two victories in 10 days against John Phillips and Rhys McKee.

He followed that up with a 17-second KO of Gerald Meerschaert in September before a scheduled bout with Leon Edwards fell through three times.

Both men have contracted coronavirus but Chimaev has struggled to recover and is now in Las Vegas receiving treatment.

And White said last night: "When he got here, the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone, which is a nasty f****** steroid.

"So he’s on prednisone, and he’s supposed to be taking this thing and chilling, relaxing, and letting himself recover. He went in and f****** trained today, felt like s***, and got super emotional and posted that.

“He’s not supposed to be training, but you know, this guy’s a savage. He wants to fight like every f****** weekend, and now he can’t even train, so he just got emotional and posted that, but he ain't quitting."

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