Last month MMA media was surprised to learn that a number of UFC stars were spotted firing grenade launchers at a Chechen military training site.
Pictures of Justin Gaethje, Henry Cejudo, and Kamaru Usman visiting Chechenia along with viral star Hasbulla went viral.
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.
They are all managed by Dominance MMA founder Ali Abdelaziz.
Fast forward to UFC 282. After Jared Gordon lost to Paddy Pimblett – to the dismay of everyone watching at home – Abdelaziz launched a campaign of outrage on twitter utilizing the social media reach he has.
Pimblett’s patron, Barstool sports founder Dave Portnoy, was offended by the notion and had tweeted about Gaethje’s visit to Chechenya.
Portnoy tweeted: “People are telling me @Justin_Gaethje was recently seen hanging out with a warlord accused of brutal crimes against humanity so its hypocritical for him to say we look bad for supporting Paddy when he supports a warlord. I’m gonna take high road + not mention it.”
Gaethje (or his manager) tweeted out a denial.
Immediately after Portnoy’s comments,
Gaethje maintained his denial, saying: “Come on guy, you won’t show me one picture or video of me with the guy you taking about. I was there.”
According to everyone including Justin Gaethje, he was there to attend the Kadyrov’s son’s birthday party.
Come on guy, you won’t show me one picture or video of me with the guy you talking about. I was there.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) December 12, 2022
Kadyrov has been sanctioned by US since 2017 – extended members of his family were sanctioned somewhat recently including his grown daughters.
A Russian social media account published additional pictures of Gaethje’s visit, captioning it:
“Eminent athletes toured the sights of the region. In particular, the guests visited the territory of the Russian University of Special Forces in Gudermes. Here they arranged a tour of the complex. The most enjoyable part was the opportunity to shoot from various types of firearms, including a grenade launcher.
Remember that former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman already visited the Chechen Republic last year. As part of his trip, he met with the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, and personally conducted training sessions for the sons of the head of the region.”