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UFC's Khamzat Chimaev: 'I Want to Get Back and Smash Somebody' After COVID-19

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

Closeup of a glove and the UFC logo at Ultimate Fighting Championship 73 on Saturday, July 7, 2007, in Sacramento, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

UFC middleweight fighter Khamzat Chimaev is preparing his return to the Octagon later this year after being diagnosed with COVID-19.  

In February, Chimaev's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN's Brett Okamoto that his client was being flown to Las Vegas to receive medical attention in the United States due to lingering effects from the coronavirus. 

Speaking to Okamoto about his illness and recovery, Chimaev explained he's been able to start training again. 

"If you are sick, you cannot think about [a] fight," Chimaev said. "I was thinking, 'One month, sick. Then still, two months. When am I going to be finished with this s--t.' I'm healthy now, hungry again. I want to get back and smash somebody and make money."

Chimaev told Okamoto he recently had surgery in Chechnya to address some of the ongoing issues he was having from COVID-19. 

Abdelaziz confirmed on Dec. 30 that Chimaev "had coronavirus and when he went back to gym, his lungs did not recover 100 percent."

Chimaev had been scheduled to fight Leon Edwards at UFC Fight Night on Dec. 19, but the bout was postponed due to his positive test. UFC rescheduled the match for Jan. 22, but Borz had to withdraw due to his longer than expected recovery. 

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In a March 1 post on Instagram (h/t MMA Weekly), Chimaev hinted at retirement because of the problems he was having recovering from the virus. 

"I want to say thank you to everyone for their support in my path in this sport," Chimaev wrote. "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."

Okamoto noted that Chimaev is targeting August as a return date. The 26-year-old is 9-0 in his MMA career. He has won all three of his UFC fights by stoppage, including a 17-second knockout of Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Fight Night on Sept. 19.