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

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov marched into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s fights. Dressed in beige jeans and a grey t-shirt with a pairing case, 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 assassination– as he made his behavior to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Seated only a few feet away from the enclosure, Kadyrov and his friends watched the evening’s campaigns in an entirely new install. Though used to attending mixed martial arts occurrences 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 ensuing in torture and summary executions – his spirit in the front sequence of a UFC event highlightings a concerning is connected with the authoritarian 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 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 engage fraternity consists of an MMA promotion and several civilize facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet nations. The push sorority is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and permits the refer of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that cover medical overheads, exercise expenditures, and jaunt fees. Depending on the level of success reached, fighters are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other obtrusive goods.

The Akhmat MMA fight association is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel considered to be one of the most powerful soldiers in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly crusaded in the Chechen wars against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being hoisted 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 figures in charge of his MMA promotion and fight team suggests that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and carry, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The campaign club has signed various remarkable boxers from other MMA organizations and has situated 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 warned an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly liberated from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC campaigns have established relationships with Kadyrov. For sample, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” cope to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned society. He, more, was gifted an expensive gondola for his services to the dictator, though has since deleted the video of the car from social media.

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

Like numerous strongmen before him, Kadyrov utilizes plays to deepen his faith of identity and bolster his honour as a gracious leader who enjoys boasts. Following the conclusion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that imparted the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its complete loyalty to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to strength seven years later, he took reign of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for change 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 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 crew and posed with idol striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large audience at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov accompanied the photo-op as a chance 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 fames and remarkable contestants. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC soldiers such as former champs Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By affiliating with famed personalities and boxers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal likenes as the realization of Chechen principles and masculinity. This use of soft ability helps maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the controversy smothering the Chechen dictator and the UFC fighters who represent him, the publicity 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 mention. It should also be noted that the only season that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a wicked oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum admitted his character as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA crusaded club.

” It is important to note 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 sitting in works as they choose ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, nonetheless, all boxers to be mindful that their actions manifest well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC making .”

According to a source close to the episode, Kadyrov and his suite entered the arena with valid tickets. However, while the resources went on to add that the advertising undertake included 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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