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Kadyrov is attempting to expand his MMA empire in Russia

The dictator’s MMA organization, Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA), is in talks to buy one of Russia’s established promotions, AMC Fight Nights. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin Marks National Unity Day In Moscow Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Ramzan Kadyrov—the republic of Chechnya’s warlord accused of harrowing human rights abuses—is attempting to purchase one of Russia’s oldest fight promotions to expand his mixed martial arts empire.

BloodyElbow.com has confirmed that the Kadyrov-owned Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) is currently in negotiations to purchase veteran Russian MMA organization AMC Fight Nights. The deal is yet to be finalized but is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

If successful, the takeover would cement ACA as the biggest MMA organization in Russia, and elevate Kadyrov to one of the most influential figures in the sport.

During its 12-year existence, AMC Fight Nights (formerly known as Fight Night Global) operated as one of the most successful organizations in Russia alongside the now-defunct M-1 Global. During its heyday, AMC Fight Night held fights involving the likes of heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko and UFC talents such as Sergei Pavlovich.

For years, AMC Fight Nights was funded by Ziyavudin Magomedov, a Dagestani oligarch who was once one of the richest men in Russia with a net worth of $1.2 billion in 2018. He sponsored a wide range of local MMA fighters including former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Magomedov also founded the now defunct Eagles MMA fight team, which Nurmagomedov once served as president of.

However, Magomedov was arrested in 2018 on charges of embezzling state funds and organizing a criminal group. The 54-year-old was found guilty earlier this month and sentenced to 19 years in a maximum security prison.

Since Magomedov’s demise, AMC Fight Nights has been on a downward spiral. The organization no longer features any of the sport’s top talent, and instead spotlights the likes of neo-Nazi Grigoriy Ponomarev.

While the extent of the negotiations remains unclear, it is unlikely that ACA will continue to allow AMC Fight Nights to operate as a vassal organization. Instead, the Chechen-based fight promotion will likely absorb its rival’s assets and athletes to strengthen its own entity and grow Kadyrov’s influence on the sport in Russia.

Since his rise to power in 2007, Kadyrov has ruled the semi-autonomous republic of Chechnya like his personal fiefdom. He is routinely accused of orchestrating human rights abuses including assassinations, abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and purges targeting the local LGBTQ+ community.

Despite his harrowing human rights record, Kadyrov sphere of influence within the sport continues to grow. Apart from founding his own MMA organization and gyms, he has also attended several UFC events and rubbed shoulders with some of the most well known figures in the sport, including former UFC champions such as Kamaru Usman, Justin Gaethje, Henry Cejudo, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Fabricio Werdum, Frankie Edgar, and Nurmagomedov.

In December 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury prohibited people doing business in the United States from interacting with several businesses owned by Kadyrov, including his mixed martial arts gym, Akhmat MMA, and his fight organization, ACA.