UFC Fighters on Forefront of Growing Gaza Solidarity Campaign

UFC Fighter Islam Makhachev waving the Palestinian flag. (Photo: video grab)

By Sammy Baroud

Islam Makhachev, Khamzat Chimaev, and Muhammed Mokaev seemed more concerned about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza than winning UFC titles.

More athletes from around the world continue to declare their unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people who are currently experiencing a brutal Israeli war that has killed, to this date, nearly 5,000 and wounded over 14,000 more. 

Not only footballers have exhibited solidarity with Palestine, but athletes from all fields, including Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters Islam Makhachev, Khamzat Chimaev, and Muhammed Mokaev.

Islam Makhachev 

Russian Muslim MMA fighter and UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev spoke about Palestine following his main event UFC title defense in UFC 294 against Alexander Volkanovski. 

After knocking out Volkanovski, the undisputed featherweight champion of the world, in the first round, Islam dedicated his victory speech to Palestine. 

He said, “I’m not celebrating the win today, because crazy things are happening around the world. Palestine we stand up with you. Stop this! Stop this!,” referring to the Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza.

After the fight, Usman Nurmagomedov, who is the Bellator MMA lightweight champion and teammate of Islam, draped the flag over Makhachev as they both exited the octagon in Abu Dhabi, after the victory. 

Asked by a reporter why he dedicated his win to Palestine, Makhachev added,

“Because all my last month, all my camp, I watch the video, I watch the story about the situation, what happens in Palestine (and) Gaza.

“It makes me very sad because the people in Palestine or (…) Gaza, they don’t have nothing. 

“They close them and attack them everyday,” he said, referring to the Israeli closure on besieged Gaza and the prevention of allowing international aid to reach the devastated Strip. 

“This is crazy what is happening in (…) Gaza in Palestine and I want to send a message. Stand with Palestine, we are with you. That’s it.” 

Khamzat Chimaev

The Chechnyan MMA fighter, Khamzat Chimaev, also spoke out in solidarity with Gaza following his middleweight bout vs Kamara Usman. 

Chimaev won by majority decision to become the number one contender and favorite to get a UFC title shot in the middleweight division. 

Following the fight, Chimaev said, “Guys you know what’s happening in the world now, right now, that didn’t happen in the cage fight.”

He added: 

“This week, Kids (are) dying. It doesn’t matter whatever in the world, Ukraine or Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, USA, doesn’t matter. 

“When kids die it’s hard, guys. I love the kids. I have a boy waiting for me back home. He’s only 3 months old. If he is just crying I know how it feels. 

“And when somebody dies, guys, I don’t know what to say. Inshallah will be good in the world. I hope so. 

“Muslim, Christian, Jewish, doesn’t matter. Please guys, be together. Let us live in this world good and let us be happy.” 

Chimaev went on to speak in Russian during his interview saying (this is not a professional translation): 

“May Allah be pleased with all you Chechens.

“May Allah strengthen you all. Today a lot of you have come here and a lot of you are watching along at home.

“If Allah allows me to, wallahi, I will go there as the first person. By Allah, give me a rifle and let me go to Palestine.

“Allah be pleased with you. Wallahi, I haven’t been raised here to be here wearing shorts.

“Do you Chechens not know the heart we have in our body? If I get permission to fight for (justice), I’m ready to die for Him (for the virtuous cause of Allah – meaning justice). I’m not as worried about dying as I am worried about my Muslim brothers.”

This statement of support by Chimaev came following many pro-Palestine posts on his Instagram channel, including a photo of him with Palestinian UFC fighter Belal Muhammed, holding a Palestinian flag. 

Muhammed Mokaev

After his win against Tim Elliot in the flyweight UFC bout, Muhammed Mokaev stood for Palestine. 

He said,”Alhamdulillah, I just wanna say peace, to all around the world. My brothers and sisters in Palestine, everyone, stay safe. 

“My little brothers, kids, women, I just wanna say, peace around the world. I love you all. Allahu Akbar.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Sammy Baroud is a young Palestinian-American Sports Writer and an aspiring footballer. He contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle. Follow him @sammybaroud

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