MMA media was surprised to learn recently that three major UFC stars were spotted visiting Chechnya.
Former UFC champions Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo accompanied Justin Gaethje in a visit to controversial leader to celebrate the birthday of one of his sons.
While there, they were spotted shooting grenade launchers and visiting a firing range.
This is confirmed in a video provided by Kadyrov shared on social media.
The three were touring military training grounds used train special troops before they join the Russian army.
They are all managed by Dominance MMA founder Ali Abdelaziz. The trio was filmed at the training facility where they were given a tour of the base before firing and using a variety of weapons, including grenade launchers.
Gaethje and Cejudo travelled to the Republic of Chechnya for the first time. Usman had previously attended a birthday celebration for Kadyrov’s kid in November of last year.
In addition to the aforementioned three, unbeaten welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev has often been seen sparring with the head of the Republic and his teenage children. He also attends events in his honor.
But while Chimaev has a family in Chechenia and is native to the region, these three are mostly in it for the lucrative payday.
Kadyrov is known as a great patron to MMA and often sponsors various athletes including Khabib Nurmagomedov.
While Gaethje and Cejudo have yet to schedule their respective Octagon comebacks before their anticipated comebacks in 2023, Kamaru Usman is anticipated to face newly crowned titleholder Leon Edwards in a trilogy match in the United Kingdom.
The threesome flew private from Istanbul and were greeted by a fleet of luxury cars.
But associating with Kadyrov may come at a steep price. UFC athlete warned others that he was denied a visa thanks to his problematic association.
U.S. Treasury Department on September 15 added top Russian finance officials, relatives of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to their list of sanctioned individuals.
The list includes three of Kadyrov’s wives and three of his adult daughters. It also places additional sanctions on the Chechen leader, who has been under U.S. sanctions since December 2017.
Over the years, Kadyrov has met with a lot of UFC vets and champions, which included Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Fabricio Werdum (who was also an ambassador for the Akhmat fight club), Alexander Gustafsson, Frankie Edgar, Ilir Latifi, Makwan Amirkhani, and Khamzat Chimaev.
Most recently Islam Makhachev dropped in with his brand new lightweight UFC belt.