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 opposes. Dressed in beige jeans and a lily-white t-shirt with a pairing 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 scheming an assassination– as he made his behavior to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s fights in a totally new prepare. Though used to attending mixed martial arts contests 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 most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ people within Chechnya ensuing in torture and summary executions – his existence in the front sequence of a UFC event highlights 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 potential from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s push society, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev demolished 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 crusade association consists of an MMA promotion and several schooling facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet governments. The campaign squad is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and accepts the identify of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Boxers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that cover-up medical expenditures, exercise expenditures, and walk fees. Depending on the level of success achieved, soldiers are also gifted with expensive cars and other obtrusive goods.

The Akhmat MMA pushed team is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger servicemen in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly campaigned in the Chechen struggles 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 security anatomies in charge of his MMA promotion and fight club suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and aid, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of greater MMA training facilities and advertisings within the Russian Federation. The fight fraternity has signed various remarkable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these battles have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those soldiers 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 campaigns have established relationships with Kadyrov. For example, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” transaction to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned society. He, very, was gifted an expensive auto for his services to the authoritarian, 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 finals was condemned by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov utilizes boasts to improve his faith of temperament and bolster his reputation as a benevolent lead who enjoys plays. Following the completion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that yielded the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its complete 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 president Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has ruled over his parties 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, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national crew and posed with superstar striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large mob at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov encountered 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 fames and remarkable jocks. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and countless UFC fighters such as former champions Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By affiliating with famed fames and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the personification of Chechen models and masculinity. This use of soft influence helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the debate encircling the Chechen dictator and the UFC fighters who represent him, the promotion 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 statement. It should also be noted that the only time that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a brutal oppressor was in 2015, soon after Werdum countenanced his role as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA crusaded club.

” It is important to note that UFC soldiers 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 prefer ,” the UFC said in a statement to Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all soldiers to be bearing in mind the fact that their actions show well on themselves, the boast and the UFC formation .”

According to a source close to the contest, Kadyrov and his entourage entered the arena with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the resources went on to add that the advertisement tackle 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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