The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front row of a UFC show spotlights 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 crusades. Garmented in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a coinciding 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 path to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Set only a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s campaigns in an completely new create. Though used to attending mixed 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 most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ beings within Chechnya developing in torture and summary executions – his proximity in the front sequence 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 campaign golf-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 fight team consists of an MMA promotion and several education facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet governments. The campaign guild is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and accepts the mention of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that comprise medical overheads, education costs, and circulate fees. Depending on the level of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other ostentatious goods.

The Akhmat MMA crusaded association is carried out by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful beings in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly contended in the Chechen battles 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 defence representations in charge of his MMA promotion and engage club is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and assistance, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The fighting guild has signed various noticeable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these pushes 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 menaced an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly exhausted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC engages have established relationships with Kadyrov. For speciman, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” cope to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA engaged squad. He, too, was gifted an expensive automobile for his services to the dictator, 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 decried by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov employs sports to enhance his faith of identity and bolster his reputation as a gracious governor who enjoys plays. Following the conclusion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that contributed the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its ended love to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to superpower seven years later, he took reign of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for metamorphosi into his own personal fiefdom. As a result of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated 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, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national team and posed with adept 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 personalities and noticeable contestants. 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 celebrities and fighters, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the personification of Chechen principles and masculinity. This use of soft dominance helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and confuse from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the contention circumventing the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertising 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 to be acknowledged that the only duration that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were partnering with a wicked tyrant was in 2015, shortly after Werdum abode his role as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA engaged 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 sitting in tasks as they opt ,” 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 manifest well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC establishment .”

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