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Islam Makhachev pictured alongside Ramzan Kadyrov after UFC title victory

After visiting the tyrannical leader of Chechnya this weekend, Islam Makhachev became the most recent UFC champion to be photographed with him.

The newly crowned UFC lightweight champion paid a special trip to Chechnya after receiving a hero's welcome when he returned to Dagestan last week. There, he met with Kadyrov, the dictator who is under U.S. sanctions for well-documented human rights abuses like forced disappearances, torture, summary executions, and war crimes, for a photo opportunity with the championship belt.

The Akhmat MMA fight club and the ACA promotion, both of which are subject to U.S. Treasury penalties, were also photographed with Makhachev. The president of the fight club who was included on the U.S. Treasury sanctions list in 2018 for "extrajudicial executions, torture, or other serious abuses of internationally recognized human rights" was also depicted. His name is Abuzayed Vismuradov. Additionally, he was charged with participating in a scheme that "illegally imprisoned and tortured individuals based on their actual or imagined LGBTI status."

Later, state media in Chechnya released the images.

Makhachev is far from the first UFC fighter to visit Kadyrov. In the past, notable former UFC champions such as Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Fabricio Werdum, Frankie Edgar, Kamaru Usman, and Khabib Nurmagomedov have all made appearances alongside the Chechen dictator. Kadyrov has also attended the UFC’s debut event in Moscow, Russia in 2018 and was later present at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi the following year.

Kadyrov has not physically attended a UFC event since 2019, although he has remained active inside the organization. At UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, UFC celebrity Khamzat Chimaev was spotted with Kadyrov's adolescent boys. The young people had recently returned from Mariupol, the Russian-occupied port city that was completely destroyed. While there, they participated in propaganda photo ops by dressing as soldiers. In an unidentified location, video showed the three adolescents firing assault guns and grenade launchers from behind covert shrubs. After purportedly seizing three Ukrainian POWs, who were afterwards displayed on Kadyrov's social media platforms, the youngsters later returned to Chechnya.


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