Khamzat Chimaev does not approve of athletes being held accountable for their political leanings.
The UFC welterweight standout, who was born in the occupied republic of Chechnya within the Russian Federation but primarily resides in Sweden, published a recent Instagram post voicing support for his “Motherland.” Chimaev also spoke out against the general politicization of athletes, especially in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are athletes, each of us is a patriot of our Motherland,” Chimaev said in an Instagram post accompanied by a training montage from the lead-up to his fight with Gilbert Burns. “Lately everyone has interfered with sports with politics. We stand for the country where we live. I am proud of my Motherland and I know that my Motherland is proud of me and supports me.”
While Chimaev’s post could be interpreted as an emotional display of patriotism, it is worth noting that the UFC star is a longstanding ally of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen dictator currently facing U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses including forced disappearances, torture, summary executions and an ongoing purge of Chechnya’s LGBTQ+ community.
Since emerging as a breakout star, Chimaev has risen to become Kadyrov’s favorite fighter. The dictator gifted Chimaev a luxury Mercedes Benz (which Chimaev promptly crashed) and reportedly convinced Chimaev not to retire despite suffering from health complications from a bout with COVID-19.
Chimaev has regularly visited the Akhmat MMA facilities, where he hosted training seminars for children, participated in interviews that later aired on Chechen state TV, and took part in photo-ops with Kadyrov. Most recently, Chimaev was posted footage of himself sparring with Kadyrov, whom he allowed to wrestle him to the ground. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Chimaev is opposed to the politicization of athletes given his ties to Kadyrov.
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