The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show foreground a disturbing link between the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov went into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s fights. Garmented in beige jeans and a white-hot t-shirt with a according casing, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal bodyguards– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an assassination– as he made his lane to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Set just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his cronies watched the evening’s contends in a totally new settle. 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 latest of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ parties within Chechnya developing in torture and summary executions – his presence in the front sequence of a UFC event spotlights a concerning link between 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 fighting organization, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev overcame Marcin Prachnio by head-kick knockout in the opening round. During his post-fight interrogation 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 fight club consists of an MMA promotion and several learn facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet districts. The campaign fraternity is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and tolerates the reputation of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that consider medical expenditures, exercise expenditures, and wander fees. Depending on high levels of success achieved, soldiers are also gifted with expensive automobiles and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA pushed organization is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the stronger souls in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once pushed 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 protection fleshes in charge of his MMA promotion and fight association 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 the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The contend guild has signed several notable fighters from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these engages have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those fighters 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 liberated from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC opposes have established relationships with Kadyrov. For lesson, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” transaction to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA fight golf-club. He, very, was gifted an expensive automobile for his services to the despot, 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 finals was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov utilizes boasts to improve his cult of temperament and bolster his reputation as a gracious commander who enjoys plays. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that held the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its terminated patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to influence seven years later, he took reign of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for alteration into his own personal fiefdom. As an expression of the results of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated over his people with an iron fist. He has also been able to use sports 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 crew and posed with hotshot striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large audience at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov ascertained the photo-op as the opportunity to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in the world, the information was criticised by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

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

While the UFC is aware of the arguing encircling the Chechen dictator and the UFC fighters who represent him, the publicity 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 mention. It should also be noted that the only period that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a hateful tyrant was in 2015, soon after Werdum countenanced his character as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA fight club.

” It is important to note that UFC fighters 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 Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all soldiers to be mindful that their actions show well on themselves, the boast and the UFC company .”

According to a source close to the occurrence, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the resources went on to add that the publicity attempt lent 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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