Fabricio Werdum won’t budge when it comes to his relationship with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.
A handful of prominent MMA fighters — including former UFC champions and current contenders — have had or still have relationships with Kadyrov and have attended some of his MMA events in Chechnya in past years.
Very little was made of that before a larger audience recently became aware of Kadyrov’s terrifying and inhumane regime, thanks to our own Karim Zidan’s reporting and the HBO’s Real Sports July episode on Kadyrov. The Chechen warlord uses his MMA promotion, Akhmat MMA, to promote his political agenda. He has allegedly been at the forefront of the murder and torture of gay men in Chechnya. In the Real Sports interview, Kadyrov denied that there are gays in Chechnya, but said if there are, he wants them taken elsewhere.
Despite all that, Werdum, a former UFC heavyweight champion, said he will remain associated with Kadyrov, because his relationship is only related to MMA.
“My relationship with Kadyrov is for MMA,” Werdum told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani at the UFC 216 media day on Wednesday. “The political things is so different. I don’t like [the politics] in Brazil, too. I know nothing about the politics.
“The political things are one thing; I’m the ambassador for Chechnya MMA. MMA ambassador. That’s it. You ask about the fighters there, I say for you I have good fighters in Chechnya, big fighters. I have maybe two or three Chechnya fighters in the UFC. The guys are tough. You ask about this, for MMA, I respond for everything. But political things are so different.”
Werdum said he doesn’t find it difficult to stay associated with Kadyrov because of the large differences between Kadyrov’s political views and MMA views. He will absolutely remain an ambassador of Kadyrov’s MMA promotion.
“For me, it’s very easy, because it’s a big difference things,” the Brazilian said. “Politics and MMA. It’s a big difference.”
Werdum meets Derrick Lewis on the UFC 216 main card on Saturday. The event, headlined by Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title, takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
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