Ahead of his 40th birthday, Chechen strongman and de facto ruler Ramzan Kadyrov hosted a mixed martial arts event with a series of Grand Prix tournament finals. The event was preceded by a weigh-in ceremony where the fighters stepped onto a golden scale in front of the dictator himself.
Following the bizarre proceedings, Kadyrov spoke to the audience in attendance about the UFC and why American fighters choose not to visit Grozny, Chechnya.
“I think they are afraid of our men,” Kadyrov said (h/t Tass.ru), “They love money while our fighters like to work, and because the athletes of our country are the best in the world.”
The following day, all three of Kadyrov’s sons made their MMA debuts. The oldest son, Akhmad Kadyrov, is 11 years old.
Kadyrov, who took over as head of the Chechen Republic in 2007, is a combat sports fan who regularly uses his Instagram account to display his fandom. It is his preferred social media tool of communication with his people and has built a cult of personality surrounding his Putin-inspired displays of masculinity — a clear attempt to present a favourable image of a strong leader to the Chechen people.
Kadyrov also finds various combat sports promotions under the Akhmat banner, including mixed martial arts, boxing, and kickboxing. According to his IG account, he has indoctrinated 450,000 Chechen youngsters into sports. He also used his MMA promotion to fund trips form former UFC champions to visit his palace.