The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front row of a UFC show foreground 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 pushes. Dressed in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a parallelling case, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal cronies– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of scheming an assassination– as he made his method to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Seated just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his cronies watched the evening’s contends in an entirely new location. Though used to attending mixed martial art 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 ensuing in torture and summary executions – his spirit in the front row of a UFC event foregrounds 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 potential from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s contend association, 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 slogans “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).
Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA fighting fraternity consists of an MMA promotion and several practise facilities throughout Chechnya and numerous other post-Soviet commonwealths. The contend golf-club is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and tolerates the figure of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Boxers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that covering medical overheads, instruct payments, and advance costs. Depending on high levels of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive autoes and other pompous goods.
The Akhmat MMA crusaded association is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful guys in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once engaged in the Chechen struggles 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 figures in charge of his MMA promotion and fighting golf-club suggests 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 greater MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The campaign squad has signed various noticeable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has residence its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these opposes have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those boxers 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 released from his UFC contract in August 2018.
Other UFC combats have established relationships with Kadyrov. For precedent, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” deal to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA opposed association. 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.