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Donald Trump’s former MMA business connection to Russian political family

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In 2008, Donald Trump co-sponsored Affliction MMA. One of his co-sponsors had an interesting connection to Russian politics.

President Trump Meets With Bipartisan Group Of Senators On Immigration Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has long had connections to our world of MMA and all of combat sports. Bloody Elbow’s own Karim Zidan has previously documented that history with both the UFC and Affliction, plus Trump’s relationship with Fedor Emelianenko and his manager Vadim Finkelchtein. But digging deeper into that history reveals a connection that is worth noting.

In 2008/2009, Trump was one of the sponsors of the short-lived Affliction MMA series, which Eddie Mercado and I have covered in our 6th Round Retro Series (look for part 2 next week). Co-sponsoring the event were Trump, Golden Boy Promotions, and Russian MMA organization M-1 Global. Trump attended both Affliction events.

At Affliction: Day of Reckoning in January 2009, in attendance were both Trump and M-1 majority shareholder Sergey Matviyenko, with Matviyenko speaking on the broadcast.

Interestingly, Matviyenko is the son of Russian politician Valentina Matviyenko. Valentina was the governor of St. Petersburg at the time; today she is Chairwoman of the Federation Council in Russia. In Russian politics, that makes her #3 in the governmental hierarchy behind only President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. She is considered a close political ally of Putin, and has been associated with him since 2003.

All of this means that in 2008, while working with Affliction, Donald Trump was in a business venture that also included the son of one of Putin’s close allies. It’s certainly an unexpected piece of current relevance for the long-defunct Affliction MMA.