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Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine


Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Ramzan Kadyrov attends a military parade in Grozny, Russia on May 9, 2022.
Ramzan Kadyrov attends a military parade in Grozny, Russia on May 9, 2022. Chingis Kondarov/Reuters

The video looks like a gun advertisement — on steroids. Shot in the style of a music video, with quick edits and a pulsating beat, three athletic looking men test fire a variety of machine guns, rocket launchers, assault rifles and handguns.

Surrounded by bearded soldiers in military gear, the three men are shown smiling and laughing, seemingly having a good time. Except, this is not your run-of-the-mill gun range outing.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters Kamaru Usman, Justin Gaethje and Henry Cejudo are the trio in a video posted online by the notorious Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in November last year, celebrating their visit to his compound in Russia to see “how real men and defenders of the Fatherland learn to fight.”

Kadyrov is a former warlord known for his brutality and for his allegiance to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He has routinely been criticized for alleged human rights violations including killings, torture and disappearances, his treatment of the LGBTQ community and has also expressed his support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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News Portal Space reached out to Kadyrov for comment but has not heard back.

Ibragim Yangulbaev, leader of the anti-Kadyrov Chechen opposition movement Adat, told News Portal Space that Chechen people don’t understand why an international sports company like the UFC would allow fighters linked to Kadyrov to be associated with its organization.

“All the fights that happen in the United Arab Emirates are often attended by Kadyrov himself with his criminal gang. We have been saying for some time that these sports organizations need to prohibit Kadyrov’s fighters to perform,” he said.

Kadyrov’s last in-person attendance at a UFC event was for UFC 242 in 2019 in Abu Dhabi.

The UFC denies that it has any commercial dealings with Kadyrov or his associates, or with any sanctioned entities.

Yet the appearance of the three stars — all former UFC title holders — alongside Kadyrov last year isn’t the only question being raised about the UFC’s oversight of the sport. There’s also its decision to allow Russian fighters in general to compete in the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization.

Read the full story here.

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