Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s son set for pro MMA debut

After months of training with UFC fighters, one of Ramzan Kadyrov’s teenage sons is set to make his professional MMA debut. Ali Kadyrov, 15,…

By: Karim Zidan | 5 months ago
Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s son set for pro MMA debut
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

After months of training with UFC fighters, one of Ramzan Kadyrov’s teenage sons is set to make his professional MMA debut.

Ali Kadyrov, 15, is will face Islam Akbarov in a three-round bout on the preliminary portion of the Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) 150 event Friday in Chechnya.

The bout was first announced Thursday by a local news outlet in Chechnya and was later confirmed by ACA on social media.

In preparation for the bout, Kadyrov has been training with the likes of former UFC champ Cody Garbrandt and members of Sweden’s Allstar team, including UFC rising star Khamzat Chimaev, who shared a training montage of the teenager on Instagram shortly following the official fight announcement.

Chimaev, a Chechen-born Swedish resident, has also routinely been pictured alongside Kadyrov and his sons, and has been known to train with them during trips to Chechnya. In October, the UFC standout posted pictures of his sparring session with the teenagers and also attended UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi alongside them.

Prior to attending UFC 280, the Kadyrov’s sons were sent to Mariupol, the occupied Ukrainian port city destroyed by Russian forces, to take part in propaganda photo-ops to boast Kadyrov’s ongoing participation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Footage showed the teenagers firing grenade launchers and assault rifles from behind camouflaged bushes in an undisclosed location. They later returned to Chechnya after supposedly capturing three Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), who were then paraded on Kadyrov’s social media channels.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that Kadyrov’s children have taken part in a televised fight. In 2016, Kadyrov made headlines for placing his sons—the oldest of whom was 11 years old at the time—in MMA fights without rash guards, padding or protective headgear. The event was criticized by the Kremlin and Russia’s ministry of sports, which deemed child fights illegal.

Despite the controversy, Kadyrov continued to place his sons in fights over the following years. In 2021, Ali took part in several boxing matches, including a controversial showing at the Time of Legends 7 event in Grozny that was declared a fixed fight by Chechen human rights activists.

Ali won the fight after stopping his opponent in the third round and was awarded a championship belt while one of the announcers on the broadcast referred to him as the next Muhammad Ali.

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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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