The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show highlights a troubling is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov walked into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s combats. Dressed in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a parallelling 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 planning an homicide– as he made his practice to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s battles in an entirely new direct. Though used to attending motley martial arts happenings 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 arising in torture and summary executions – his spirit in the front row of a UFC event highlightings a concerning link between the despot 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 oppose sorority, 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 crusade team consists of an MMA promotion and several train facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet districts. The battle association is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and permits the refer of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that cover medical expenditures, training expenses, and circulate costs. Depending on high levels of success achieved, soldiers are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA crusaded organization is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger beings in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly pushed in the Chechen conflicts against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being heightened 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 insurance anatomies in charge of his MMA promotion and contend team is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and approval, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The combat club has signed several noticeable fighters from other MMA organizations and has targeted its promotional might and natural 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 peril an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly released from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC campaigns have established relationships with Kadyrov. For lesson, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” slew to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA contended fraternity. He, more, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the dictator, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

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 utilizes plays to intensify his sect of temperament and bolster his reputation as a benevolent leader who enjoys sports. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that dedicated the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its ended allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to strength seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for conversion into his own personal fiefdom. As a result of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairperson Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has governed over his people with an iron fist. He has also been able to use boasts 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 sun striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large audience at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov looked the photo-op as the opportunity to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in countries around 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 conspicuous athletes. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC fighters such as former endorses Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By accompanying with famous fames and soldiers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the incarnation of Chechen ideals and masculinity. This use of soft ability facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and confuse from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the polemic smothering the Chechen dictator and the UFC boxers 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 is asking for remark. It should also be noted that the only season that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a vicious oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum consented his character as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA contended 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 Sports on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all boxers to be mindful that their actions show well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC making .”

According to a source close to the phenomenon, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the source went on to add that the advertising undertake contributed security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the arena, the UFC’s continued stillnes on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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