2020 belonged to Khamzat Chimaev after going from a relative unknown to a big name on the mixed martial arts circuit due to having three dominant performances in the UFC in quick succession.
However, Chimaev tested positive for COVID-19 late on that year, something that ultimately led to two cancellations of his proposed bout with Leon Edwards, and he continues to suffer the lingering effects of the coronavirus.
The Swedish-Chechen welterweight’s symptoms have been so bad that the UFC flew him out to Las Vegas to receive additional medical care and last night Chimaev posted a cryptic message on social media that hinted at retirement.
“I want to say thank you all so much for supporting me in my journey in this sport,” Chimaev wrote on Instagram (translation via Google). “I think I’m done, yes I know I didn’t take the belt but it’s not the most important victory in his life.
“It may upset you but my heart and body tell me everything. I want to say a big thank you to my team [Allstars Training Center]. I want to say a big thank you to UFC.”
View this post on Instagram
Afterwards, Chimaev posted photos that appeared to show blood in the sink, prompting further concerns from Chimaev’s growing fan base.
UFC President Dana White quickly shot down any retirement talk, saying he spoke to Chimaev personally and learned that he posted his thoughts while emotional following a tough training session that was against doctor’s orders.
“When he got here [to Las Vegas], the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone, which is a nasty f**king steroid,” White told MMA Junkie. “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**king trained today, felt like s**t, 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**king weekend, and now he can’t even train, so he just got emotional and posted that, but he ain’t quitting.”
White said Chimaev needs to avoid training while he’s staying in Las Vegas on this medication. The aim is for him to be fit for a UFC return in the summer.
“He was flown out here so that we could take care of him,” White added. “We get him taken care of. They got him on medication. He’s going to be fine, and he goes in and starts f**king training. He’s not supposed to be training, and he’s super frustrated.
“He’s training when he’s supposed to be resting. He’s got to stay off, at least while he’s on this medication.”
Chimaev’s barnstorming 2020 in the UFC saw him make light work of John Phillips, Rhys McKee and Gerald Meerschaert across both welterweight and middleweight divisions.
After he was forced out of that aforementioned fight with Edwards, Belal Muhammad is stepping in on short notice to take on Birmingham’s Edwards on 13 March in Las Vegas.