Rising welterweight Khamzat Chimaev has appeared to announce his retirement following months dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Chimaev released a statement Monday that vaguely suggested he is leaving the sport.
“I want to thank you all so much for supporting me in my journey in this sport. I think I’m done,” said Chimaev in a statement translated from Russian to English via Instagram.
COVID-19 troubles have sidelined Chimaev since January, when it was reported that he had contracted the virus. Chimaev was booked for a fight on March 13th against Leon Edwards, although in mid-February he was removed due to the “lingering physical effects” of the virus.
UFC President Dana White was skeptical of Chimaev’s possible retirement. In an interview with John Morgan of MMA Junkie, White claimed the decision was an “emotional” move and that he is still on the road to recovery.
“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*cking trained today, felt like sh*t, and got super emotional and posted that,” said White.
Chimaev was one of the biggest breakout stars during 2020. The undefeated prospect made his UFC debut in July, defeating two opponents within the month. He last fought in September, where he stopped Gerald Meerschaert in 17 seconds with strikes.