The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show foreground a troubling is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov marched into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s engages. Dressed in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a according case, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal collaborators– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of scheming an homicide– as he made his mode to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Seated just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his cronies watched the evening’s opposes in an entirely new install. Though used to attending mixed martial art contests on a near-weekly basis in his native Chechnya, this was the first time that Kadyrov was present at a Ultimate Fighting Championship show.

Given Kadyrov’s well-documented human rights abuses- the most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ people within Chechnya arising in torture and summary executions – his presence in the front row of a UFC event foregrounds a concerning is connected with the oppressor and the world’s largest MMA promotion.

Kadyrov’s decision to attend the UFC’s first ever show in Moscow is due to the presence of Magomed Ankhalaev, a UFC light heavyweight expectation from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s push squad, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev overcame Marcin Prachnio by head-kick knockout in the opening round. During his post-fight interview in the octagon, Ankalaev thanked Kadyrov for his support and finished off with Kadyrov’s now-infamous slogans “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA contend association consists of an MMA promotion and various practice facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet nations. The fight club is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and makes the epithet of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that embrace medical expenses, discipline overheads, and excursion costs. Depending on the level of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive cars and other gaudy goods.

The Akhmat MMA fight squad is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger mortals in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once engaged in the Chechen conflicts against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being promoted to commander of the Chechnya’s Special Forces, the’ Terek’ Chechen SWAT unit, as well as Kadyrov’s private security detail. Kadyrov’s decision to place one of his most influential defence figures in charge of his MMA promotion and campaign fraternity is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and foundation, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of greater MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The fighting guild has signed various noticeable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has residence its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these fightings have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those boxers remain under contract with the UFC, despite the undeniable link between them and Kadyrov, while Edilov- who reportedly menaced an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly exhausted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC contends have established relationships with Kadyrov. For example, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” treat to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA pushed association. He, more, was gifted an expensive gondola for his services to the oppressor, though has since deleted the video of the car from social media.

Kadyrov’s photo-op with Mohamed Salah during the 2018 World cup finals was decried by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov uses sports to intensify his faith of personality and bolster his honour as a benevolent chairman who enjoys plays. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that yielded the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its ended allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to capability seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for change into his own personal fiefdom. As a result of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated over his parties with an iron fist. He has also been able to use boasts like MMA and soccer to further cement his reign.

For example, during the 2018 World cup finals, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national unit and posed with hotshot striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gathering at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov identified the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in the world, it was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with personalities and remarkable contestants. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and countless UFC fighters such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with famed personalities and fighters, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal portrait as the realization of Chechen models and manlines. This use of soft supremacy facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and disconcert from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the contention circumventing the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the promotion has chosen to remain silent regarding this potential public relations nightmare. As of the time of submission of reports, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s is asking for comment. It should also be noted that the only hour that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a brutal oppressor was in 2015, soon after Werdum consented his persona as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA contended club.

” It is important to note that UFC fighters operate as independent business partners , not hires, and that subject to their contractual commitments to UFC they are free to conduct business and to participate in activities as they prefer ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, however, all fighters to be mindful that their actions indicate well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC group .”

According to a source close to the occasion, Kadyrov and his entourage entered the arena with valid tickets. However, while the source went on to add that the advertising undertake contributed security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the arena, the UFC’s continued silence on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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