After his match at UFC 294, Khamzat Chimaev not only acknowledged Ramzan Kadyrov in his address but also escorted him back to Chechnya on a private jet.
Chimaev clinched a decisive victory over the former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 this past weekend. However, it was his post-match actions that stirred a different kind of conversation.
During the recent episode of The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani delved into the dilemma faced by the MMA community upon witnessing a prominent figure like Chimaev closely aligned with the controversial Chechen leader.
Helwani talked about the translated post-match comments by Khamzat Chimaev on Ramzan Kadyrov, along with their prior interactions.
He stated: “What do we make of and what to do with some of the uncomfortableness of someone like Khamzat Chimaev being very close friends with a Chechen dictator, rubbing elbows, his sons taking photos with Dana White…Do we just ignore all this?”
“I don’t really know how to process all of this. What do we do? No other sport brings this moral and internal conflict to its audience.”
There was a notable shift in tone between the uplifting opening remarks in Khamzat Chimaev’s speech at UFC 294 and the revelations that emerged towards the end of the interview.
According to a translation by Karim Zidan’s Sports Politika, Chimaev’s remarks in Chechen can be summarized as follows:
“Chief, may Allah be pleased with you, it is not difficult to perform here and fight for you here. If you give me permission, I swear by Allah, I will be the first to go there [to Palestine]. For God’s sake, give me weapons so I can go to Palestine.”
“I swear, I wasn’t raised to fight in shorts. I swore allegiance to our chief and I swear, if he gives me the right, I am the guy who will go and die there. I don’t worry about my own death as much as I worry about [the death of] my Muslim brothers.”