Khabib Nurmagomedov’s bizarre verdict that Khamzat Chimaev needs more Muslim team-mates is incorrect, claims Reza Madadi.
Madadi, a fellow Muslim, works closely with Chimaev and is ideally placed to comment on the former lightweight champion’s remarks.
Chimaev has been working closely with Darren Till and many interpreted Khabib’s criticism as a thinly-veiled dig at the British star.
Speaking at a charity event for Pakistan, Khabib said: ‘If you are a Muslim, you should have good people around you.
‘Muslims who can say “Hey, don’t do this.” I recently watched the weigh-in of Khamzat Chimaev. I followed what was happening with his weight and looked at his team.
‘There are no Muslims around him and this is very bad. Because if you are a Muslim, you need good, strong people around you that will say “Come back, do this.”
Nurmagomedov added: ‘When you become famous and rich, when you gain power and there are no people who will give advice or you do not listen to them, then something will happen.
‘You need good people, even if you don’t like it, you need them.’
But Madadi, who used to fight in the UFC as a lightweight and cornered Chimaev as part of his team, has felt the need to respectfully tell Khabib why he is wrong.
In an Instagram post, he wrote: ‘Dear Khabib, my Muslim brother. Firstly I would like say I have a huge respect for you as an athlete and for all your achievements in our beloved sport of MMA. I am also very proud of how you represent our religion, belief and God in all your interviews and appearances.
‘But, I would like to give my point on your opinion on not having a Muslim team around him and that was supposed to be the reason of him missing the weight. I have to disagree with you on this part.
‘Not only have Khamzat had Muslim friends and teammates such as me around him from day 1, but also from many other religions and backgrounds. There have been people that have been with him from the start, giving him love, sharing blood, sweat and joy and done everything to bring him to where he is now.
‘Being a Muslim doesn’t mean we are perfect and flawless, trust me, I have done many mistakes in my life as many people know.
‘With all due respect, so have you. So mentioning having Muslim team will make you perfect, I have to disagree, having a team that cares about you. In good times and bad times, no matter what belief or religion they have is far more important. And that is something Khamzat has.
‘There are several issues that made Khamzat miss the weight but those reasons stay in the team. But he is still young and he will learn from his mistakes.
‘If a big Champion like you, did learn from your mistake when you missed weight, I have no doubt that our brother Khamzat will do as well.’
The jury is still out on whether Chimaev will be allowed to compete at welterweight again having missed the mark by more than seven pounds at UFC 279, sending the card into disarray.
Fortunately, the UFC scrambled to save the event and Chimaev dismantled Kevin Holland in a round.