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 trod into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s fights. Garmented in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a according jacket, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal bodyguards– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of storying an assassination– as he made his road 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 engages in an entirely new install. Though used to attending mixed martial arts episodes 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+ beings within Chechnya ensuing in torture and summary executions – his spirit in the front row of a UFC event highlights 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 expectation from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s campaign team, 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 crusade sorority consists of an MMA promotion and several education facilities throughout Chechnya and numerous other post-Soviet regimes. The oppose club organised by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and births the epithet of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that report medical expenses, civilize expenses, and wander costs. Depending on the different levels of success attained, boxers are also gifted with expensive autoes and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA pushed team is performed by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the stronger humen in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly pushed in the Chechen crusades 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 figures in charge of his MMA promotion and battle society is demonstrated 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 publicities within the Russian Federation. The crusade society has signed various notable fighters from other MMA organizations and has placed its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these engages 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 exhausted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC fights have established relationships with Kadyrov. For sample, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” deal to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA pushed team. He, extremely, was gifted an expensive auto for his services to the oppressor, though has previously been deleted the video of the car from social media.

Ramzan
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 many strongmen before him, Kadyrov uses boasts to enhance his cult of identity and bolster his honour as a gracious leader who enjoys boasts. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that devoted the republic increased financing of and resources in exchange for its complete patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to supremacy 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 chairperson Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated over his people 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 finals, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national squad and posed with starring striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gathering at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov realized the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the most 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 celebrities and conspicuous players. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and countless UFC boxers such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with famous personalities and soldiers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal epitome as the realization of Chechen paragons and manlines. This use of soft supremacy facilitates 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 boxers who represent him, the publicity 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 request for comment. It should also be noted that the only epoch that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a fierce tyrant was in 2015, shortly afterwards Werdum countenanced his character as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA campaigned club.

” It is important to note that UFC boxers operate as independent business partners , not employees, and that subject to their contractual commitments to UFC they are free to conduct business and sitting in tasks as they pick ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all soldiers to be bearing in mind the fact that their actions reflect well on themselves, the play and the UFC make-up .”

According to a source close to the affair, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while the resources went on to add that the advertisement tackle lent security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the realm, the UFC’s resumed stillnes on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.

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