The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show highlights a troubling is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov went into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s engages. Dressed in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a according casing, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal henchmen– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of scheming an homicide– as he made his practice to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s opposes in an entirely new set. Though used to attending mixed martial arts occasions 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 developing in torture and summary executions – his presence in the front sequence of a UFC event highlights 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 expectation from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s oppose team, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev demolished 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 combat team consists of an MMA promotion and various discipline facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet states. The crusade golf-club is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and makes the reputation of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that deal medical expenditures, teach costs, and circulate costs. Depending on the level of success achieved, boxers are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other gaudy goods.

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

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and corroborate, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and advertisements within the Russian Federation. The fighting squad has signed various notable boxers from other MMA organizations and has residence 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 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 fightings have established relationships with Kadyrov. For example, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” cope to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned club. He, too, was gifted an expensive automobile for his services to the dictator, though has since deleted the video of the car from social media.

Kadyrov’s photo-op with Mohamed Salah during the 2018 World cup finals was decried by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov expends athletics to deepen his sect of temperament and bolster his reputation as a gracious lead who enjoys athletics. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that gave the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its ended patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to ability seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for translation into his own personal fiefdom. As a result of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairwoman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has governed over his people with an iron fist. He has also been able to use plays 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 crew and posed with stellar striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large army at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov determined the photo-op as the opportunities to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in the world, the information was criticised 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 fighters such as former endorses 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 epitome as the manifestation of Chechen ideologies and manlines. This use of soft superpower facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the disagreement 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 reporting, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s request for observation. It should also be noted that the only meter that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were consorting with a hateful oppressor was in 2015, soon after Werdum admitted his capacity as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA engaged club.

” It is important to be acknowledged that UFC boxers 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 opt ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, however, all soldiers to be bearing in mind the fact that their actions indicate well on themselves, the play and the UFC company .”

According to a source close to the happen, Kadyrov and his suite entered the arena with valid tickets. However, while the source went on to add that the promotion undertake contributed security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the arena, the UFC’s persisted stillnes on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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