The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show highlights a disturbing link between the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov marched into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s crusades. Dressed in beige jeans and a white t-shirt with a pairing coat, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal bodyguards– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of scheming an homicide– as he made his acces to the front row of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Set merely a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his friends watched the evening’s combats in an entirely new give. 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 most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ people within Chechnya ensuing in torture and summary executions – his spirit in the front sequence of a UFC event highlights 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 battle guild, 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 slogans “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA engage sorority consists of an MMA promotion and various exercise facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet territories. The battle squad is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and assumes the refer of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that treat medical overheads, learn expenses, and roam costs. Depending on the level of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive autoes and other gaudy goods.

The Akhmat MMA crusaded golf-club is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the most powerful beings in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly crusaded in the Chechen crusades 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 protection chassis in charge of his MMA promotion and push fraternity is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and assist, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and publicities within the Russian Federation. The crusade society has signed various notable soldiers from other MMA organizations and has situated its promotional might and natural resources behind them. Five of these combats 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 released from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC contends have established relationships with Kadyrov. For lesson, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” cope to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA engaged team. He, very, was gifted an expensive car for his services to the authoritarian, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

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 many strongmen before him, Kadyrov applies plays to deepen his sect of personality and bolster his honour as a gracious chairman who enjoys plays. Following the conclusion of its 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 terminated allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to superpower seven years later, he took predominate 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 chairwoman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has regulated 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, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national unit and posed with starring striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large audience at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov considered 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 fames and noticeable athletes. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC soldiers such as former endorses Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By associating with far-famed personalities and fighters, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal portrait as the personification of Chechen principles 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 controversy surrounding the Chechen dictator and the UFC boxers 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 is asking for remark. It should also be noted that the only occasion that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were spousing with a brutal oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum abode his role as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA crusaded 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 choose ,” 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 reflect well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC organisation .”

According to a source close to the episode, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while different sources went on to add that the advertisement tackle lent security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the arena, the UFC’s prolonged silence on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.


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