The Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov published a statement on his social media. The statement details he has sent troops to Ukrainian soil to aid Russia in the war.
In a video posted by former UFC fighter turned Chechen Government official Abdulkerim Edilov– Kadyrov’s troops are seen in the video by the thousands. The video is captioned “Our valiant defenders of the Fatherland are ready to defend the interests of the Motherland anywhere in the world! AHMAT-POWER! ALLAH1U AKBAR!”
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The video ends with the caption “We are prepared to live and ready to die by the way of Kadyrov”. But Kadyrov is more than a government official – he’s also a huge patron of Mixed Martial Arts. The dictator is very fond of combat sports- he owns the fighting promotion Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) formerly known as Absolute Championship Berkut.
ACA holds competitive events in MMA, kickboxing and jiujitsu. Berkut was especially kind to grapplers and was their main stomping ground for a period in the late 2010s.
Despite the massive influence, Khabib has yet to comment on the recent news of Russia invading Ukraine. Khabib’s family has a long relationship with Ukraine – he allegedly even tried to get Ukraine citizenship in the past.
Kadyrov has since turned on Khabib. He had recently referred to Nurmagomedov as ‘ a UFC project’ and questioned his unwillingness to walk out with the flags of either Dagestan or Russia. Nowadays Kadyrov is much closer to another UFC star – young up and comer Khamzat Chimaev. You might remember that Chimaev had a particularly rough time with Covid 19 – and reportedly wanted to quit professional sports as a result. He was pressured to reconsider by Kadyrov, and invited to be his guest. Kadyrov even went so far as to buy the young UFC star a Ferrari.
Kadyrov was also at the core of the conflict between Chimaev and Khabib that was ultimately resolved with Chimaev apologizing.
One of the biggest controversies in terms of Kadyrov and combat sports stemmed from staging an event that held MMA fights between children, which sparked revolt all around the world. Kadyrov’s own underage sons fought in the organization.
At the time, Russian MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko had harsh criticism for Kadyrov (via Tass):
“Participation in the fights on a par with adults may result in irrecoverable harm to the health of children and it will not only put an end to their sports career, but will also inflict both physical and psychological damages.”
Emelianenko’s security was alleged to have been compromised after and he softened his stance considerably.
Kadyrov’s involvement with MMA is not only as a “promoter” but also as a fan. He has a huge influence over MMA and has been a patron of a number of famous fighters. Often hosting them for seminars at the Akhmat club.
Over the years, Kadyrov has met with a lot of UFC fighters 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.
The US government issued sanctions on Chechen, which among other things targeted Kadyrov’s MMA influence. After the sanctions, American fighters were prohibited from participating in his events.
According to The American Office of Foreign Administration, “OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”