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

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov moved into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s campaigns. Garmented in beige jeans and a white-hot t-shirt with a pairing casing, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal bodyguards– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of plotting an homicide– as he made his way to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Sat just a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s fights in an entirely new train. Though used to attending mixed martial art 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 most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ people within Chechnya developing in torture and summary executions – his attendance in the front sequence of a UFC event highlightings a concerning link between the oppressor 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 engage 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 slogan “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA oppose sorority consists of an MMA promotion and several schooling facilities throughout Chechnya and many other post-Soviet territories. The oppose fraternity is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and stands the epithet of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Boxers who are signed to the fight club’s official listing are paid monthly allowances that include medical expenses, teach expenses, and roam costs. Depending on the level of success attained, soldiers are also gifted with expensive vehicles and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA contended team is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful boys in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once fought in the Chechen conflicts 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 insurance figures in charge of his MMA promotion and oppose guild suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and subscribe, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The battle squad has signed various notable fighters 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 boxers 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 released from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC contends have established relationships with Kadyrov. For sample, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” batch to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA contended team. He, more, was gifted an expensive auto for his services to the oppressor, 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 criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov uses athletics to deepen his sect of identity and bolster his honour as a benevolent lead who enjoys boasts. Following the end of the Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that returned the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its complete love to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to ability seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for metamorphosi 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 beings 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 team and posed with wizard striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large gathering at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov find the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in the nations of the world, the information was criticised by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with personalities and remarkable jocks. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC boxers such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with famed personalities and fighters, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the incarnation of Chechen ideals and masculinity. This use of soft ability helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and disconcert 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 promotion 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 remark. It should also be noted that the only age that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were consorting with a nasty oppressor was in 2015, shortly afterwards Werdum consented his role as an ambassador for the Akhmat MMA fight 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 pleasures as they choice ,” the UFC said in a statement to Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all soldiers to be mindful that their actions manifest well on themselves, the sport and the UFC organization .”

According to a source close to the affair, Kadyrov and his entourage entered the arena with valid tickets. However, while the resources went on to add that the advertisement undertake contributed 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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