Khusein Askhabov will not be fighting at UFC Fight Night 229 next month. He was scheduled to face Daniel Pineda in a featherweight bout but it has been removed from the official fight card.
The UFC issued a formal statement late last night. It read,
“UFC is aware of the recent arrest and allegations regarding Khusein Askhabov. The organization will continue to gather additional details regarding the incident. UFC will allow the legal process to play out before making any additional statements, however, his scheduled fight on October 7 has been canceled.”
— The Phuket News (@thephuketnews) September 11, 2023
Kidnap, torture and extortion
Askhabov holds a record of 23-1 although he has yet to register a UFC win. The 28 year old and his brother are accused of involvement in a plot to kidnap, torture and extort an Italian tourist in Phuket.
The actual crime was committed by three Kazakh men who are believed to have fled the country. But it sounds like the Askhabov brothers are believed to have masterminded the plot.
The kidnappers escaped with jewelry, cash and various personal items worth over $337,000 USD. One of the stolen credit cards was subsequently used in Dubai, where the three Kazakh kidnappers had a stopover on their way home.
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Askhabov would probably have received a purse of $12,000 USD for his loss to Jamall Emmers at UFC Vegas 69 in February. It was his first fight in nearly three years.
He and his brother appear to both be regular visitors to Phuket. While the cost of living there is lower than most western countries it would be difficult to travel there multiple times per year without a steady source of income or a lucrative sideline of some sort.
Askhabov is Chechnyan and during a trip to Phuket in June he wrote in Russian,
“Sometimes we forget what a huge responsibility we have when we are far from the homeland. We are sure that no one will see us, will notice our immoral acts, and no one will guess where and who we are.”
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Faith and personality
Given than Askhabov is now alleged to have criminal connections in Phuket these words take on a more sinister meaning. The Italian victim told police that he met the brothers a year ago.
The Askhabov brothers were arrested on Tuesday and are set to be prosecuted for ‘the act of robbery done with cruelty (and) endangering the body or mind through torture’ according to the Phuket News.
It seems like Askhabov’s UFC career is over, although he remains on the roster for the time being. Writing in Russian on Instagram, where he has an improbable sounding 5.2mn followers, the 28 year old wrote,
“To test a person’s faith and personality, he must be sent to a foreign country where he will encounter a completely different world.”
It sounds like Askhabov’s faith and personality were both tested during his time in Phuket. If the local media reports are accurate and he did commit the crimes in question then it is fair to say the UFC fighter didn’t pass this particular test with flying colours.