Khamzat Chimaev is all set to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 294. Having been out of action for an extended period, many are excited to see him return. However, many will surprised to know one key difference with the fighter this time around.
Recently it was announced that Chimaev would be making his return to middleweight. Following a long-drawn rivalry with Paulo Costa, the two are all set to settle their differences at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. While he has recently competed at welterweight, weight issues have seen him struggle to make the cut. Thus, similar to his early days in the promotion, Chimaev will make his return to 185.
Khamzat will not compete for Sweden anymore, he is now a UAE citizen and will represent the United Arab Emirates at UFC 294 🇦🇪
[per his manager Majdi Shammas] pic.twitter.com/Fg83VAFYMR
— 𝕽𝖆𝖎𝖓𝖒𝖆𝖐𝖊𝖗❂ (@Sa_Gwang) September 23, 2023
Moreover, this will be the first time Chimaev will not be representing Sweden. According to his manager Majdi Shammas, Chimaev has emigrated and will be representing the United Arab Emirates, his new home, moving forward. Having represented Sweden since making his promotional debut in 2020, ‘Borz’ is finally trading his flag for a different one.
Notably, Chimaev moved to the Northern European country at the age of 18. As such, Chimaev has been a long-time member of the Allstar Training Center in Stockholm and has been the closest Sweden has been to getting their own champion. With that said, many feel that Chimaev’s decision was a rather inevitable one.
Why is Khamzat Chimaev not representing Sweden anymore?
For those unaware, Khamzat used to represent Sweden but was born in Chechnya and still has ties to the country. Notably, Khamzat’s ties come from his close relationship with the Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Previously, Khamzat has also trained and cornered Kadyrov’s sons, Ali and Dustum.
Moreover, many have suggested that Khamzat’s move away from Sweden may be due to political tensions as well. Previously, Khamzat’s relationship with Kadyrov came under a lot of scrutiny, as it did not go down well with many people. One of them happened to be Swedish right-wing politician, Rasmus Paludan. In early 2023, there were numerous Quran-burning incidents in Sweden, with Paludan publicly declaring his attack on Muslims worldwide.
Similarly, another incident saw a 37-year-old Iraqi Christian refugee rip out and set fire to pages of the Quran outside the Stockholm Mosque. As such, these incidents sparked protests in multiple Muslim countries which resulted in more instances of Quran-burning in both Sweden and Denmark. Notably, Paludan himself burnt a Quran publicly calling out Chimaev and Kadyrov.
Despite numerous accusations of Islamophobia and hate crimes against the Swedish politician, he has not backed down. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine that Khamzat, choosing his peace has decided to part ways with the country. For the most part, the UAE has been a second home to Chimaev and he will find more than a few welcoming arms there. Seeing that it keeps him closer to Thailand, where he often trains, the move may ultimately turn out to be a fruitful one.