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Khamzat Chimaev may be new to UFC, but he's had Conor McGregor on his sights for some time now.
Chimaev (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) made himself known after recording two UFC victories in 10 days on “Fight Island,” his UFC debut. Fans and commentators have both likened the newcomer to Nurmagomedov. Like Khabib, he's got nothing good to say about McGrego.
In a recent interview with Russian freelance reporter Adam Zubayraev, Chimaev recounts the time he traveled to Ireland to find McGregor and “beat him up” for comments made about Nurmagomedov and Chechens. Chimaev flew to Ireland in 2018, around the same time his professional career was kicking off.
“At that time, I was fighting as an amateur or a pro record of 1-0 when that happened,” Chimaev said. “It is that time when he insulted Khabib, and he also was talking about Zubaira (Tukhugov). At that time, nobody knew who I was. He was also talking about another guy who’s also Chechen. I don’t remember his name, but he told us he knocked him out in a sparring session. My mind was blowing up at the moment, but I’m living here very close to him. I was thinking that I would catch him in the streets or at the gym and beat him up. This is what he deserved.”
According to Chimaev, he was stupped at the airport in Ireland for unknown reasons. He was initially allowed to continue, but Chimaev said he was stopped again. The second time, he was detained and sent back home without an understood explanation. Chimaev said this took place despite having his travel papers in order.
“Yes, I landed in Ireland and waited in an airport,” Chimaev said. “First, they stopped me a while, and then slightly they told me to go. Then I was going out. When I was going out from the airport, they stopped me again. That time, there were guys literally in uniform. … Yes, there were (special forces), and they told me, ‘You cannot go anywhere.’ But I didn’t get what they meant. At that time, my English was very bad. Even right now, it’s not that good. … They drove me to the police station and kept me for eight hours.
“No, there wasn’t any interrogation at all. I was just kept in a cell. I waited for maybe eight or nine hours. I was doing push-ups and squats. They didn’t even bring me food. Then after a while, they told me, ‘You have to go back to Sweden.’ They continued, ‘We’ll bring you back to the airport where the plane is waiting for you.’ They brought me back to airport and sent me back home.”
Beyond Nurmagomedov, Chimaev said his trip to Ireland was a way to defend not the honor of all Chechen people. Chimaev said he was going to beat up McGregor under the guise that he arrived to help him prepare for UFC 229.
“Honestly speaking, I wanted to beat him up,” Chimaev said. “Many people thought I was coming there to help him to prepare for Khabib. … Not only for Khabib. I was coming there to protect our pride and honor. I was going there for all of us. If that would not have happened, I would have maybe thrown, I don’t know, some object. … I think I was able to stand for myself.”
Chimaev is not currently slated for another fight. However, UFC president Dana White has indicated that Chimaev will return to the octagon in August.
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