A little-known fact about highly-touted UFC welterweight and middleweight prospect Khamzat Chimaev: He flew to Ireland in 2018 in an attempt to ‘beat up’ Conor McGregor for insulting Khabib Nurmagomedov during their now-infamous feud in the leadup to their lightweight title bout at UFC 229.
Chimaev, who was stopped by airport police, spilled the details to Russian freelance reporter Adam Zubayraev ahead of his welterweight fight against Li Jingliang on Saturday.
“At that time, I was fighting as an amateur or a pro record of 1-0 when that happened,” Chimaev said (h/t Joe Coleman of Talk Sport). “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.”
The 27-year-old Chechnyan-born fighter wasn’t interrogated by the police but simply instructed to fly back to Sweden.
“I landed in Ireland and waited in an airport,” he 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.”
Chimaev, who was relatively unknown on the MMA circuit at the time, felt that by beating up McGregor he would be defending the pride and honor of his people.
“Honestly speaking, I wanted to beat him up,” he said. “Many people thought I was coming there to help him to prepare for Khabib… not for Khabib.
“I was coming there to protect our pride and honour. 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.”
‘Borz’ will return to the octagon after a one-year layoff to take on China’s Li Jingliang at UFC 267. The highly anticipated pay-per-view takes place this Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.