Khamzat Chimaev has been criticised by former UFC star Tim Kennedy for sparring with Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
Chimaev has become one of the UFC's most recognisable rising stars on the roster, having put together an undefeated run to become a leading contender at 170lb. 'Borz' is hoping to pursue a title shot this year which could come against either Leon Edwards in his current weight class or Alex Pereira at 185lb.
As his profile continues to expand Chimaev has been placed under increasing scrutiny particularly for his relationship with Chechen warlord Kadyrov, who is a known ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. However former UFC star Kennedy, who fought in the promotion between 2013 and 2016, does not believe it is acceptable that the pair were spotted training MMA together.
He tweeted in response to a video of the pair: "Let me get this right. It’s totally fine that the UFC controls what a fighter wears on his shorts, whether or not they train with James Kraus, or what they do on their social media, but it’s totally fine for them to train with a terrorist."
Kadyrov has a powerful influence on Chechen MMA and has a high-profile friendship with Chimaev, with the pair filmed grappling in a comical session last year. Chimaev pretends to tap out during the footage with the pair sharing an embrace after the intense training session.DON'T MISS:
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The warlord has been subject to a series of protests over his controversial actions including from LGBT groups who have accused him of leading anti-gay purges. He is also known for adopting misogynistic policies in the republic of Chechnya, with his profile on the rise given ally Putin's actions in Ukraine.
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Despite coming into criticism for the training footage, Chimaev is not the first to visit the republic with a whole host of other UFC stars including Justin Gaethje, Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo all having spent time with Kadyrov. The 28-year-old currently faces an uncertain future given he missed weight for his previous scheduled clash with Nate Diaz, which saw him instead choke out Kevin Holland at short notice.
And while he waits for a potential shot at UFC gold, fighting legend Chael Sonnen has suggested that he should step in the octagon with middleweight star Paulo Costa. “I don’t want Paulo Costa to say, ‘I want more. I want a bigger contract', but all of this time, he could be building something," Sonnen said on his YouTube channel. "You know who he could be building with?
"(He could) be building with (Khamzat) Chimaev. You’ve just found a partner right there. You’ve just found a partner who’s not gonna let it slide. He’s not gonna let it ride. He’s not gonna look the other way, and he’s not gonna let it go. And when you’re doing a battle in the media for nothing more than attention, that’s the guy you need.”READ MORE: "A disgrace!" Jose Mourinho's reaction to Man City FFP ban decision spoke volumes