Highly touted UFC welterweight Khamzat Chimaev will not retire; instead, he is planning to return to action later this year.
The 26-year-old Chechen fighter, who took the world by storm in 2020 when he scored three straight wins after joining the UFC roster, has been out of action for several months after contracting COVID-19 and struggling with long-term symptoms. . After he was forced to leave two different dates for a fight against top-five welterweight, Leon Edwards, hinted that he would walk away from the sport for good as he struggled to recover from the deadly disease.
Now with his health improving, Chimaev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz confirmed via text message to MMA Fighting that he is currently targeting July for his next fight in the UFC. ESPN first reported Chimaev’s plan to return.
“I think a lot of us don’t really know what these young fighters go through,” Abdelaziz told ESPN. “It is impossible to live inside their heads and inside their bodies, and sometimes they say things out of frustration or they are just angry because they can’t do what they love to do. Khamzat has been doing this all his life, so he almost feels crippled from not being able to train, but now he is healthy and is going to start training.
“I was talking to him this week and he even said that he will swim with alligators and sharks, and do movements with these creatures, as part of a special training program.”
Chimaev hinted at his comeback earlier this week, writing on social media: “Surprise, surprise, I’ll be back to crush everyone!”
With plans to return to full training in April and then fight in July, Chimaev and his team have targeted welterweight contender Neil Magny as their next opponent.
Welterweights have come and gone through social media and through various interviews. Chimaev has had trouble finding opponents willing to face him, and Magny immediately offered to take on the undefeated prospect. The question now is about the timing.
Ultimately, Chimaev’s health issues have kept him on the sidelines since his previous win in September 2020. While Magny is definitely still playing, he’s not so sure he wants to sit down until July.
“I will fight him any day of the week,” Magny said in a text message sent to MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “But there’s no way I’m putting my career on hold so he can fight me in July.
“First you need to focus on being healthy. The screech you’ve been asking for a long time is waiting for you and is waiting for you. “
It remains to be seen whether the UFC will attempt to sign Chimaev against Magny or wait until there is additional information on his health once he returns to training in April.
For now, Chimaev looks poised to return to action as one of the most hyped fighters to emerge from the pandemic era as the UFC plans his comeback later this year.