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 walked into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s crusades. Dressed in beige jeans and a white-hot t-shirt with a matching 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 lane 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 a totally new determine. Though used to attending motley martial art phenomena 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+ people within Chechnya developing in torture and summary executions – his existence in the front sequence of a UFC event foregrounds a concerning link between the dictator 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 crusade sorority, 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 slogan “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA campaign guild consists of an MMA promotion and various course facilities throughout Chechnya and numerous other post-Soviet commonwealths. The oppose golf-club is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and countenances the mention of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that cros medical expenses, develop rates, and jaunt fees. Depending on high levels of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive cars and other pompous goods.

The Akhmat MMA opposed sorority is performed by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger humankinds in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once fought in the Chechen battles against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being elevated 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 illustrations in charge of his MMA promotion and engage golf-club suggests 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 greater MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The campaign golf-club has signed various conspicuous boxers from other MMA organizations and has targeted 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 fighters 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 exhausted from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC battles have established relationships with Kadyrov. For precedent, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” treat to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA contended team. 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.

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 numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov exploits sports to improve his religion of identity and bolster his honour as a benevolent governor who enjoys boasts. 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 loyalty to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to dominance seven years later, he took reign of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for changeover 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 ruled 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 team and posed with adept striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gang at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov watched the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in countries around the world, the information was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with luminaries and remarkable players. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and countless UFC soldiers such as former champions 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 embodiment of Chechen principles and masculinity. This use of soft capability helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the controversy bordering the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertisement 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 commentary. It should also be noted that the only epoch that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were consorting with a fierce oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum admitted his persona as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA engaged club.

” It is important to note that UFC soldiers operate as independent business partners , not employees, and that subject to their contractual commitments to UFC they are free to conduct business and to participate in activities as they elect ,” 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 sport and the UFC arrangement .”

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