It appears that Ramzan Kadyrov's MMA promotion will no longer hand out hefty paychecks to foreign fighters on a regular basis.
BloodyElbow confirmed with various sources that the Akhmat MMA promotion significantly decreased their purses for the ongoing Grand Prix tournaments. The news was first reported by FightSport.fi, who revealed that Jamba Elonen-Kulmala had withdrawn from the tournament because of a proposed pay cut.
According to Elonen-Kulmala, the decision to withdraw from the tournament happened after Akhmat MMA officials attempted to back out of their previously signed contract that outlined the purses for each stage of the tournament.
"They announced that the purse would become a small portion of what we previously agreed upon. If they made the trip more worthwhile, I could have gone, but I finally decided to withdraw."
Elonen-Kulmala is likely not the only fighter to withdraw from the tournament. Fighters such as Paulo Thiago and Desmond Green are also unlikely to compete in the following tournament following the sudden pay cuts.
Sources told BloodyElbow that Akhmat Grand Prix offered $10,000 (5k to show + 5k to win) for the opening round, $30,000 (15k to show + 15k to win) for the semi-finals, and $50,000 (25k to show + 25k to win) for the final. Combatants were only scheduled to make a percentage of that following the pay cuts - approximately 50% or more.
The reasons behind their surprising decision to cut purses mid tournament remain unclear. The Akhmat MMA organization is directly funded by Ramzan Kadyrov, who in turn is funded by the Kremlin. Socio-political and economic factors could be at play, though it could also be a business-related decision to cut purses down to a realistic figure relative to the Russian regional scene.