Khamzat Chimaev overcame COVID-19 after a prolonged battle that caused the Swedish-Chechen fighter to pull out of his scheduled fights twice in 2021 and even pushed him to the brink of retirement.
In a recent interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, Chimaev revealed that his struggles with the virus required throat surgery to enable breathing. However, the language barrier did not permit Chimaev to elaborate further on the cause and the effect of the procedure.
Chimaev did mention that he had started regaining his strength after surgery, enabling him to resume training.
"When I was in Sweden, It started to feel better... One week better, one week bad. I was still training when I was feeling bad also. This was too crazy. The coach said (to) me like, 'No. We can't do this until next year... most important is your health.' Then I stopped training and came to the USA. The doctors helped me there also. When I came back to my country, I did an operation here (points to the throat) and took out some stuff."
UFC prospect Khamzat Chimaev (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) took the combat sports world by storm when he scored three straight finishes in 66 days upon his 2020 arrival. However, the 26-year-old's fortunes changed in the following months.
After being forced out of his fight against Leon Edwards twice due to lingering symptoms of COVID-19, Khamzat Chimaev announced his retirement from professional MMA through a social media post.
Chimaev eventually made a recovery after the necessary treatment and time off from training and is expected to make his comeback later this year.
Khamzat Chimaev is eager for an August 2021 return
Although Khamzat Chimaev is only a couple of months removed from considering retirement, he is willing to set foot inside the Octagon as soon as possible.
Upon being asked if August 2021 would be an early comeback considering his suffering in the past few months, Khamzat Chimaev told Brett Okamoto that he is eager to re-establish his dominance.
"I think it's right. Because, I've only been in UFC (for) three fights. I didn't show who I am. People still talk like he beat some guys, something like that. That makes me (feel) inside like, 'now I have to show these people who I am'. I want to smash everybody to make a statement and show these guys who is the best in the world."
Khamzat Chimaev's last fight was a 17-second KO win over Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11 in September 2020.
The Swedish-Chechen fighter has not competed in the UFC in over seven months. Yet, it is undeniable that Chimaev will get the opportunities to climb the rankings ladder relatively quickly due to his immense popularity. That's provided he returns in the same form that he displayed in the initial run in the UFC.