The North Caucasus, particularly Chechnya and Dagestan, have proven to be a reservoir of undiscovered talent and potential. The fighting culture rooted in centuries of warfare, coupled with their deep traditions in combat sports such as wrestling, Combat Sambo, and Judo, make them perfect specimens for a sport such as mixed martial arts.
In fact, the sport is growing at such a remarkable pace in that region, that even Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has adopted MMA as his own personal hobby, which has simultaneously propelled fighters from that republic into near-overnight sensations and national heroes.
While promotions such as Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) have existed for over a year, this past weekend saw the inaugural ‘Akhmat MMA' show - an event named after Ramzan's father, the ex-president who was assassinated in 2004. The event showcased some of the brightest talent in the region, including two of BloodyElbow's scouted prospects (Khusein Khaliev and Abdul-Kerim Edilov), as well as top Flyweight prospect Magomed Bibulatov.
Given that the event was named after his own father, Kadyrov was naturally in attendance at the event, as were several notable UFC stars, including middleweight champion Chris Weidman, interim heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, and former champ Frank Mir. Other who were supposed to attend the event included light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones and former champ Tito Ortiz.
As guests of honor during their stay in Chechnya, the UFC fighters were submerged into the boisterous culture of the Caucasus, which included festivities well into the night after the event. Weidman and Mir were even taught how to dance the Lezginka, the national dance of many republics in the Caucasus.
Khusein Khaliev showing them how it is really done:
Дорогие друзья! Чеченский национальный костюм и кухня нравятся всем. В этом мы в очередной раз убедились во время дружеского ужина, который я дал в честь победителя турнира "Грозная битва" Абдул-Керима Эдилова и легендарных спортсменов Бадр Хари, Фабрицио Вердум, Френк Мир, Крис Вайдман, Забит Самедова и других. Мы очень приятно провели время, побеседовали о спорте, рассказали жизненные истории. Кто-то из гостей пожелал примерить традиционную одежду чеченцев. Фабрицио, Френк и Крис одели черкесски, подпоясались. Мы много фотографировались. На прощание гости сказали, что нет вкуснее чеченских блюд и народного костюма красивее, чем у чеченцев. Я, честно говоря, не стал спорить и охотно согласился. Мы договорились в понедельник провести большую показательную тренировку. #Кадыров #Россия #Чечня #Спорт
Kadyrov, the controversial leader at the helm of the Chechen Republic since he turned 30, constantly promotes Chechen fighters on his Instagram account and even posts pictures and video clips where he trains alongside those men.
Given his status and apparent love for the sport, it will be interesting to see how involved the Chechen president remains with MMA in the region.