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

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov ambled into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s battles. Garmented in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a coinciding casing, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal cronies– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an assassination– as he made his mode to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his cronies watched the evening’s combats in an entirely new put. Though used to attending motley martial arts phenomena 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+ people within Chechnya resulting in torture and summary executions – his presence in the front sequence of a UFC event highlights 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 expectation 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 interrogation 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 crusade sorority consists of an MMA promotion and various civilize facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet commonwealths. The push golf-club is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and bears the figure of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Boxers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that covering medical expenditures, civilize payments, and travel costs. Depending on high levels of success achieved, soldiers are also gifted with expensive cars and other ostentatious goods.

The Akhmat MMA crusaded society is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful males in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once contended in the Chechen battles against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being hoisted 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 digits in charge of his MMA promotion and contend organization is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and subsistence, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The crusade team has signed various remarkable boxers from other MMA organizations and has targeted its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these contends 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 warned an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly exhausted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC fights have established relationships with Kadyrov. For sample, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” cope to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA fight club. He, more, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the oppressor, 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 uses boasts to improve his religion of identity and bolster his reputation as a benevolent ruler who enjoys plays. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that passed the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its terminated allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to power 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 chairperson Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has governed over his beings with an iron fist. He has also been able to use plays 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 whiz striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large bunch at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov construed the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the more 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 luminaries and noticeable athletes. 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 accompanying with famed personalities and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the personification of Chechen paragons and manlines. This use of soft strength helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the disagreement circumventing the Chechen dictator and the UFC fighters 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 meter that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a inhuman oppressor was in 2015, soon after Werdum countenanced his capacity as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA crusaded 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 elect ,” the UFC said in a statement to Boast on Earth.” We do expect, however, all fighters to be mindful that their actions indicate well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC making .”

According to a source close to the event, Kadyrov and his suite entered the arena 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 silence on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.

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