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Ukraine sanctions former UFC champ for supporting Russia’s invasion

Former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan was among the athletes sanctioned by Ukraine’s parliament this week.

MMA: AUG 17 UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2 Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A former UFC champion is among the notable names facing Ukrainian sanctions for supporting Russia’s invasion.

Petr Yan is one of 56 athletes that Ukraine’s parliament approved for economic sanctions following a draft resolution Tuesday. The list was comprised of athletes who “systematically and actively support the war against Ukraine, legitimize the military invasion and genocide of Ukrainians by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”

While it is unclear exactly what triggered Ukraine’s sanctions against Yan, it is worth noting that the 29-year-old shared an Instagram story of the nations’ flags painted onto two hands, which formed the image of a dove, a symbol of peace, at the start of the invasion. He captioned the image “no to war.” Later, when his rival Aljamain Sterling posted a picture of himself and his team standing behind a Ukraine flag, Yan accused Sterling of “trying to make it political.”

Yan, who defeated Jose Aldo to win the vacant UFC bantamweight title in 2020, was joined by two other Russian mixed martial arts fighters: former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko and convicted rapist Alexander Emelianenko, both of whom have been vocal in their support for the ongoing war.

Other notable names on the sanctions list include figure skater Kamila Valieva, who tested positive for trimetazidine during the Russian National Figure Skating Championships in December 2021, and gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who has been banned for the sport for one year after wearing the pro-invasion of Ukraine Z symbol during an International Gymnastics Federation Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar earlier this year.

The sanctions also listed eight Russian wrestlers, among whom are Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev and Alexander Karelin. There were also five boxers on the list, including Alexander Povetkin, Nikolai Valuev, and Dmitry Pirog.

The sanctions imposed on the athletes will last for 10 years and include a ban on entering Ukraine, a restriction on state awards, the blocking of personal assets and trade operations in Ukraine.