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UFC releases fighter whose corner displayed neo-Nazi tattoo

From the standpoint of his in-cage performance, Roman Bogatov’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone much worse. Add the controversy surrounding his cornering team, and the UFC is parting ways with the former M-1 champ.

UFC 251: Santos v Bogatov Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

When Roman Bogatov hit the UFC, he did it with about as perfect a resume as a young fighter could hope to have. The 29-year-old had an unblemished 10-0 record, with six wins coming inside the distance. He had a reputation as a smothering, technical grappler. And had already beat a host of strong competition, including former UFC lightweight Mickael Lebout. At the time he faced them, Bogatov’s pre-UFC opponents had a combined record of 110-33-4.

All of which is to add extra context to the statement that Bogatov’s Octagon debut was an unmitigated disaster. The trouble started with Bogatov poking Santos in the eye in round one. In round two, he ate a barrage of right hands, ending up on the mat with world-class grappler Leonardo Santos on his back pounding away. By the end of the second, Santos was exhausted, but had out-struck Bogatov 96/46. Early in round three, Bogatov landed a low blow, and then another.

Then, with little more than a minute left in the fight, Bogatov grabbed a clearly kneeling Santos and kneed him straight in the jaw. The obvious foul netted Bogatov a two point deduction and resulted in judges handing the Russian fighter his first ever professional loss, 29-26 on all three cards.

But, the trouble didn’t end there. Shortly after Bogatov’s bout concluded, a screencap from his fight started circulating online. It wasn’t from any of the action, however, but instead an image of one of Bogatov’s cornermen, working with the fighter between rounds. Clearly visible on the cornerman’s arm was a large Schwarze Sonne (or sonnerad)—a neo-Nazi symbol that Heinrich Himmler had inlayed into the floor of the Wewelsburg Castle, which became a center point of SS operations.

Aleksey Kiser, Bogatov’s coach – whose tattoo is pictured above – defended the imagery, saying that “it has another meaning, for me as a Slavic [person],” and that “not a single colored person has been harmed by me.”

Kiser may have pled his ignorance to the clear and well-documented racist history behind the black sun image, but whether it was because of concerns over Bogatov’s ties to his coach or simply because of his foul-laden performance, the UFC has made the rare decision to cut ties with Bogatov after only one fight.

Bogatov announced that the UFC had terminated his contract in a recent statement to Russian news agency TASS. “Yes, they told me today they had terminated the contract,” Bogatov revealed, adding that he was not given a reason for the decision.