The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front row of a UFC show foreground a disturbing is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov sauntered into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s contends. Dressed in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a according 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 planning an assassination– as he made his style to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Accommodated just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his friends watched the evening’s opposes in a totally new arrange. Though used to attending mixed martial arts incidents 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+ beings within Chechnya arising in torture and summary executions – his existence in the front sequence of a UFC event highlightings a concerning is connected with 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 prospect from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s combat club, 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 mottoes “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA oppose squad consists of an MMA promotion and various practice facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet states. The fight organization is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and abides the mention of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Boxers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that plow medical expenditures, qualify expenses, and advance costs. Depending on high levels of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive cars and other obtrusive goods.

The Akhmat MMA campaigned squad is performed by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful people in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly opposed in the Chechen wars 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 figures in charge of his MMA promotion and push society suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and assist, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and promotions within the Russian Federation. The contend golf-club has signed various noticeable fighters from other MMA organizations and has residence its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these campaigns 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 threatened an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly secreted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC battles have established relationships with Kadyrov. For sample, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” treat to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA engaged organization. He, very, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the oppressor, 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 applies sports to intensify his faith of personality and bolster his honour as a benevolent chairman who enjoys plays. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that caused 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 transformation 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 governed over his parties with an iron fist. He has also been able to use athletics 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 bunch at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov construed the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in countries around the world, it was criticised by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with celebrities and remarkable players. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC fighters such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with far-famed luminaries and soldiers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal persona as the personification of Chechen ideologies and manlines. This use of soft superpower facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and confuse from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the contention encircling 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 request for statement. It should also be noted that the only experience that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a nasty dictator was in 2015, soon after Werdum countenanced his persona as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA campaigned club.

” It is important to note that UFC fighters 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 manifest well on themselves, the boast and the UFC organisation .”

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