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 sauntered into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s crusades. Garmented in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a coinciding coat, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal cronies– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of plotting an assassination– as he made his room to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Accommodated just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s campaigns in a totally new fixed. Though used to attending mixed martial art affairs 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+ beings within Chechnya resulting in torture and summary executions – his proximity in the front sequence of a UFC event spotlights a concerning is connected with 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 prospect from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s campaign association, 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 mottoes “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA campaign golf-club consists of an MMA promotion and various civilize facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet districts. The engage squad is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and accepts the refer of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that treat medical expenditures, course expenditures, and pas costs. Depending on high levels of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive cars and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA fight club is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger men in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly opposed in the Chechen conflicts 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 defence figures in charge of his MMA promotion and contend squad suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and supporting, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of greater MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The battle squad has signed various notable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these combats 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 peril an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly secreted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC opposes have established relationships with Kadyrov. For speciman, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” transaction to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA crusaded squad. He, very, was gifted an expensive vehicle for his services to the dictator, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

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

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov expends plays to deepen his religion of personality and bolster his reputation as a gracious lead who enjoys plays. Following the completion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that demonstrated the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its complete loyalty to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to influence 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 people 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, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national unit and posed with adept striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gathering at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov met the photo-op as the opportunity to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in countries around the world, the information was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with celebrities and notable jocks. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC boxers such as former endorses Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By affiliating with famed celebrities and fighters, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal image as the incarnation of Chechen ideals and manlines. This use of soft dominance helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and confuse from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the arguing bordering the Chechen dictator and the UFC boxers who represent him, the advertising has chosen to remain silent regarding this potential public relations nightmare. As of the time of reporting, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s is asking for commentary. It should also be noted that the only epoch that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a ferocious dictator was in 2015, soon after Werdum admitted his character as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA opposed club.

” It is important to note that UFC soldiers 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 prefer ,” the UFC said in a statement to Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all boxers to be mindful that their actions manifest well on themselves, the sport and the UFC make-up .”

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

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