Just hours before one of his favorite fighters is scheduled to compete at a UFC event in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ramzan Kadyrov threatened nuclear war on Ukraine.
The Chechen dictator, routinely accused of orchestrating human rights abuses, took to Telegram on Saturday to condemn Russian military officials for losing the stronghold of Lyman in eastern Ukraine and suggest that Russia use “more drastic measures” in its ongoing invasion.
“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, such as the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov wrote in a post that was viewed approximately 5 million times on Telegram. “It is not necessary to take every decision with an eye on the Western American community - it has already said so and done a lot against us.”
Russia’s defeat in Lyman comes just one day after Putin announced the annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine. The annexations came in the wake of so-called referendums held by Russia in the illegally occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia—referendums that have been labeled as a “sham” by Western leaders.
Yet despite Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and Kadyrov’s threat of nuclear war, one of the Chechen dictator’s favorite fighters, Maxim Grishin, is scheduled to compete on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 61 show against Philipe Lins.
Grishin competes in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division and is an official representative of Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA fight club, a state-sponsored combat sports facility that has been placed under sanctions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for bringing “pride and profit” to Kadyrov. The fight club is operated by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a Kadyrov ally who is considered one of the most powerful men in Chechnya. He was also sanctioned by the U.S. government and later helped oversee the Chechen troops being deployed to fight in Ukraine.
In a statement to The New York Times, the UFC said it had “no contractual relationship or any commercial dealings with Ramzan Kadyrov or any of his family, associates or affiliated companies that have been designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.” However, the organization continues to feature fighters with clear ties to Kadyrov and his sanctioned fight club.