The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front row 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 campaigns. Garmented in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a parallelling coat, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal collaborators– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an assassination– as he made his mode to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his friends watched the evening’s combats in an entirely new adjust. Though used to attending motley martial art events 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 arising in torture and summary executions – his proximity in the front sequence of a UFC event spotlights a concerning is connected with the dictator 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 potential from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s fight sorority, 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 slogan “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA contend sorority consists of an MMA promotion and various civilize facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet governments. The contend fraternity is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and carries the identify of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that extend medical expenses, develop costs, and trip fees. Depending on high levels of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive cars and other gaudy goods.

The Akhmat MMA contended fraternity is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the stronger people in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly contended in the Chechen crusades 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 anatomies in charge of his MMA promotion and crusade guild suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and reinforcement, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and promotions within the Russian Federation. The fighting society has signed several conspicuous boxers 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 fighters 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 released from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC pushes have established relationships with Kadyrov. For illustration, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” treat to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA contended organization. He, extremely, was gifted an expensive vehicle 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 was decried by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov employs sports to enhance his religion of personality and bolster his reputation as a gracious chairman who enjoys sports. Following the completion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that contributed the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its complete patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to power seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for change into his own personal fiefdom. As an expression of the results of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairwoman 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, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national unit and posed with virtuoso striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large army at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov find the photo-op as the opportunity to rub shoulders with arguably the more 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 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 affiliating with famous fames and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the manifestation of Chechen ideals and manlines. This use of soft supremacy helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the controversy encircling the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertisement 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 remark. It should also be noted that the only time that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a vicious oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum countenanced his role as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA opposed club.

” It is important to note that UFC boxers 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 choose ,” the UFC said in a statement to Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all fighters to be mindful that their actions indicate well on themselves, the boast and the UFC society .”

According to a source close to the incident, Kadyrov and his entourage entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the source went on to add that the promotion attempt 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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