The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front row of a UFC show foreground a disturbing 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 fightings. Garmented in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a pairing casing, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal henchmen– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an homicide– as he made his style to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Accommodated just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s combats in a totally new setting. Though used to attending motley martial arts episodes 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 existence in the front sequence of a UFC event spotlights a concerning link between the authoritarian 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 promise from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s contend fraternity, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev defeated 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 slogan “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA fight guild consists of an MMA promotion and several set facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet nations. The contend guild is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and countenances the figure of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that cros medical overheads, practice costs, and wandering fees. Depending on high levels of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive automobiles and other ostentatious goods.

The Akhmat MMA contended club is performed by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful soldiers in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once contended in the Chechen crusades against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being elevated 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 insurance figures in charge of his MMA promotion and campaign guild suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and approval, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The battle squad has signed various noticeable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has residence its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these crusades have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those soldiers 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 crusades have established relationships with Kadyrov. For example, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” transaction to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned guild. He, too, was gifted an expensive vehicle for his services to the despot, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

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

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov exploits plays to enhance his sect of personality and bolster his honour as a benevolent manager who enjoys boasts. Following the completion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that returned the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its ended patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to capability seven years later, he took reign of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for translation into his own personal fiefdom. As a result of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairwoman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has ruled over his beings with an iron fist. He has also been able to use athletics 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 squad and posed with ace striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gang at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov watched the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in the world, the information was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with luminaries and noticeable athletes. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC soldiers such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By accompanying with far-famed fames and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal portrait as the personification of Chechen paragons and manlines. This use of soft superpower helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and disconcert from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the arguing circumventing the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertising 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 request for note. It should also be noted that the only duration that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a ferocious tyrant was in 2015, shortly after Werdum accepted his persona as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA pushed club.

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

According to a source close to the happen, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the resources went on to add that the advertisement undertake included security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the realm, the UFC’s continued stillnes on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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