Russian MMA fighter ‘tried to get coronavirus’ by standing near sick people with coughs

From UFC featherweight Bryce Mitchell’s belief that COVID-19 is a bioweapon created in a lab by the US government to “take our guns,” to…

By: Karim Zidan | 3 years ago
Russian MMA fighter ‘tried to get coronavirus’ by standing near sick people with coughs
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

From UFC featherweight Bryce Mitchell’s belief that COVID-19 is a bioweapon created in a lab by the US government to “take our guns,” to Tito Ortiz’s endless supply of easily debunked coronavirus conspiracies, there have been countless examples of MMA fighters sharing ignorant opinions about the 2019 novel coronavirus.

However, arguably the most dangerous take has been that of Bellator heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov, who revealed that he has actively been seeking out sick people just so he could “feel the virus” for himself.

“Even if someone nearby coughs, I’m not particularly afraid of this,” Kharitonov stated on Instagram (h/t RT Sports). “I even admit honestly that when I was in Moscow, I went to places where people cough. I wanted to try to get this coronavirus myself, to feel what it is like, what kind of virus it is. Unfortunately or fortunately, that did not happen. Apparently my immune system works.”

Kharitonov’s social media account, which reaches over 78,000 individuals, is filled with mindless takes about the deadly disease. Over the past few weeks, the Russian heavyweight revealed his opposition to a coronavirus vaccine, promoted plunging into cold water to treat the disease, and expressed concern over the government mandated lockdowns currently taking place in his native Russia.

“More people will die at the hands of criminals and starvation than from coronavirus,” he said in a separate IG post. “If [government] employees do not know the laws, then what about civilians? There is chaos in the country.”

Kharitonov also made headlines for his adamant support of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, whom he called “the most adequate coronavirus expert on the planet.” Lukashenko was one of the most defiant leaders who opposed the ongoing pandemic, and famously suggested that vodka and saunas would serve as cures for COVID-19.

”There are no viruses here. Did you see any flying around? I don’t see them either,” Lukashenko told a TV reporter while playing hockey in early April. “It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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