Khamzat Chimaev continues to stir up controversy due to his ongoing relationship with Ramzan Kadyrov, the dictator accused of well-documented human rights abuses, including forced disappearances, torture, summary executions and an ongoing purge of Chechnya’s LGBTQ+ community.
The UFC star posted a picture on his Instagram story that showed him seated cage-side next to the Chechen dictator’s 14-year-old son Ali Kadyrov. He also posted a second photo that showed him hugging Ali as the two of them walked into the arena in Abu Dhabi.
Prior to attending UFC 280, Kadyrov’s three teenage sons were sent to Mariupol, the occupied Ukrainian port city destroyed by Russian forces, to take part in propaganda photo-ops while dressed as soldiers. Footage showed them firing grenade launchers and assault rifles from behind camouflaged bushes in an undisclosed location. The teenagers later returned to Chechnya after supposedly capturing three Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), who were then paraded on Kadyrov’s social media channels.
“It was not without a surprise: Akhmat, Eli and Adam Kadyrov have brought to Chechnya three captured POWs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, whom they neutralized during their participation in the special operation,” the head of Chechnya wrote on his Telegram channel.
Chimaev, who was reportedly in the UAE to negotiate his next UFC bout, has continued to post an array of photos of himself alongside Kadyrov and his three teenage sons. Several posts showed the UFC welterweight sparring with the teenagers and hanging out with them in various locations. His posts usually included captions labeling Kadyrov’s sons his “brothers.”
It is worth noting that the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions in 2017 that blocked U.S. citizens and people present in the United States from doing business with Kadyrov. Some of his businesses were later punished in 2020, including his ACA fight league and his Akhmat MMA fight clubs.
Despite the sanctions placed on Kadyrov and his MMA entities, the UFC continues to allow the Chechen dictator to maintain a presence at their events. Kadyrov has previously attended the UFC’s debut event in Moscow, Russia in 2018 and was later present at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi the following year.
Nevertheless, the UFC told The New York Times that it had “no contractual relationship or any commercial dealings with Ramzan Kadyrov or any of his family, associates or affiliated companies that have been designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.”
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