Khamzat Chimaev has been criticized for his links to Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov. But he clearly has not been affected by the negative publicity this particular relationship has generated.
Chimaev was born in Chechnya but is based in Sweden. He returned to this homeland and posed for a photo with the country’s controversial president in the Grozny:
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Kadyrov is a big MMA fan and has links to several fighters. He gifted Chimaev a Mercedes Benz and appears to have hosted the UFC welterweight contender’s wedding in Grozny.
Kadyrov shared a video of the wedding with his 8.3 million Instagram followers. The bridal party appears to have received an official police escort through the city’s deserted streets.
There is also plenty of footage of what appears to be traditional Chechen dancing for those that like this sort of thing:
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It looked like a happy occasion but questions will be raised about how Kadyrov uses MMA fighters like Chimaev to bolster his reputation at a time when he is subject to US sanctions due to ‘major human rights abuses’.
He has been accused of massive human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, kidnapping, and the persecution of homosexuals. He has also been accused of involvement in numerous targeted killings of political and personal opponents.
His MMA promotion, Absolute Championship Akhmat, was forced to cancel plans to expand all over Europe with international events. Its YouTube channel was also taken down due to the sanctions.
– حمزة تشيمايف يتزوج يوم أمس في الشيشان بحضور الزعيم الشيشاني رمضان قديروف وتحت إجراءات أمنية مشددة …
– ألف مليون مبروك للذئب ، و إن شاء الله يعقل ويخف هباله شوي …
— عبدالله | UFC (@HFC420) May 22, 2022
Combat sport sanctions
Kadyrov is not the only figure from the world of combat sports to find himself subject to US sanctions recently. The Kinahan family, which owned MTK Global, was also named as being part of an international criminal network.
As a result MTK Global was forced to abruptly close its doors potentially leaving mixed martial artists like Mounir Lazzez, Su Mudaerji, Bokang Masunyane, Young Jun Kim and Ahmed Mujtaba in the lurch.
Interestingly Chimaev did not share any photos of his wedding on his personal Instagram account. But Kadyrov’s video makes it clear that he hosted the wedding and played a prominent role in organizing the occasion.
Figures connected to Kinahan have been prevented from travelling to the US. Sky Sports pundit Matthew Macklin was denied entry to the country recently, he had been set to commentate at a boxing bout in Las Vegas.
Chimaev’s connections to Kadyrov are well publicized and the undefeated UFC welterweight appears to be proud of his relationship with the Chechen leader. But as Macklin discovered to his cost it doesn’t always pay to get involved with people who are at odds with the US government.