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

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov stepped into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s fightings. Dressed in beige jeans and a white-hot t-shirt with a parallelling 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 storying an homicide– as he made his way to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Set only a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his chums watched the evening’s fights in an completely new settled. Though used to attending mixed martial art 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 latest of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ parties 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 potential from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s fighting sorority, 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 fight association consists of an MMA promotion and several teach facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet districts. The fighting club is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and suffers the epithet of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that embrace medical expenses, prepare overheads, and trip fees. Depending on the level of success achieved, soldiers are also gifted with expensive autoes and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA contended organization is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger souls in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov once engaged in the Chechen campaigns 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 crusade sorority suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and subsistence, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The push golf-club has signed several conspicuous fighters from other MMA organizations and has targeted its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these opposes 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 liberated from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC combats have established relationships with Kadyrov. For speciman, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” spate to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned guild. He, too, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the authoritarian, 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 condemned by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov applies athletics to improve his faith of personality and bolster his honour as a benevolent president who enjoys athletics. Following the conclusion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that afforded the republic increased financial support and resources in exchange for its terminated patriotism to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to influence seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for conversion into his own personal fiefdom. As an expression of the results of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated over his beings with an iron fist. He has also been able to use sports 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 idol striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large audience at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov realise the photo-op as a chance to rub shoulders with arguably the most popular Muslim athlete in the world, it was criticised by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with luminaries and remarkable contestants. 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 affiliating with far-famed personalities and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal epitome as the realization of Chechen principles and manlines. 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 disagreement surrounding 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 submission of reports, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s is asking for observation. It should also be noted that the only time that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a nasty tyrant was in 2015, soon after Werdum consented his character as the distinguished 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 Boast on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all fighters to be bearing in mind the fact that their actions show well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC organisation .”

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


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