- UFC’s latest champion has been photographed with brutal Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
- Islam Makhachev recently beat Charles Oliveira and received a hero’s welcome in Russia.
- “New champion Islam Makhachev brought the belt to Ramzan Kadyrov,” state media said.
Islam Makhachev, who won the UFC lightweight championship with a dominant win over Charles Oliveira, received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Russia, even posing with brutal Chechan dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.
“New UFC lightweight champion Russian Islam Makhachev brought the belt to Ramzan Kadyrov,” read a caption on the photo, which state-owned RIA Novosti Sport posted on Telegram.
The photograph further underscores the influence Kadyrov wields in combat sports, as the politician, routinely dubbed Vladimir Putin’s attack dog by western media, has his own MMA firm called Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA), is frequently spotted alongside the sport’s top stars, and has even appeared cageside at prominent UFC events.
A wildly controversial figure, Kadyrov was even sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2020, for human rights abuses.
The US Treasury said the Kadyrovtsy, which is an organization “under the guidance of Kadyrov,” committed “egregious” activities that included the “kidnapping, torturing, and killing members of the LGBTI population in the Chechen Republic.
“The Kadyrovtsy are accused of illegal abductions, torture, extrajudicial executions, and other abuses, including the detention of journalists and activists,” the statement said.
The photograph of Kadyrov with Makhachev can be seen below.
Kadyrov has undeniable influence in mixed martial arts
The power Kadyrov has over MMA fighters from his region has been evident throughout the COVID era of sports.
He convinced UFC star Khamzat Chimaev to come out of retirement from the sport in 2021, after the athlete said he was done with the game because he was struggling from coronavirus infection.
Just last month Kadyrov reportedly settled a rivalry between Russian fighters Chimaev and Abubakar Nurmagomedov by video calling them both and reportedly ordering them to stop quarreling.
Makhachev, meanwhile, has risen to the highest echelons of world MMA, having learned the sport from the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father and trainer.
According to the UFC’s own rankings, Makhachev is the world’s No. 3-rated ultimate fighter, behind only Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya.
It is unclear who Makhachev will fight next; however, the winner of this month’s bout between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler, Beneil Dariush, or even Volkanovski would all make worthy challengers.