Abdul-Kerim Edilov—the former UFC fighter who moonlighted as a babysitter and martial arts coach for Ramzan Kadyrov’s children—has died.
The news was first reported by Chechen opposition movements 1ADAT and Niyso, both of whom revealed the news on their respective Telegram channels.
According to 1ADAT, Edilov passed away on the morning of Dec. 29. The group later posted a brief voice message in Chechen, which revealed that a commemoration was set to take place at 10am local time.
Edilov, 30, was once seen as Kadyrov’s most promising fighter. He joined the Chechen warlord’s notorious Akhmat MMA fight club in 2015 and quickly became one of its primary representatives before signing with the UFC in August 2015.
Edilov’s UFC debut was sidetracked after the fighter tested positive for meldonium, a prohibited substance, in January 2016. Following a 15-month suspension, Edilov made his UFC debut in September 2017 and defeated Serbia’s Bojan Mihajlovic following a lopsided beatdown.
Despite the impressive win, however, Edilov did not compete for the UFC again. Instead, he focused on becoming a faithful servant to Kadyrov’s family.
Over the course of the next few years, Edilov spent the vast majority of his time with Kadyrov’s children. He attended Quran recitation classes with them, taught them how to fight, and coached them through amateur fights put on by their father’s Akhmat fight club. All the aforementioned bouts have been criticized as fixed fights with predetermined outcomes.
Edilov’s efforts paid off when he was elevated to his first official government role as Kadyrov’s chief of staff in December 2021. Three months later, Edilov was promoted to deputy prime minister of Chechnya, a position he held until his sudden resignation in November.
Edilov is a native of Tsentoroi, the same village that Kadyrov hails from, which makes them part of the same clan (teip). He has several siblings and cousins involved in Chechen government, including his brother Walid who was elevated to Minister of Sports in June 2022.
Despite Edilov’s prominent position in Kadyrov’s inner circle, reports over the past few months suggest that the fighter had fallen out of favor with the dictator. He no longer appeared in Kadyrov’s infamous video montages and was absent from training sessions with Kadyrov’s children, who instead focused on training with UFC star Khamzat Chimaev.
The last time Edilov was seen in one of Kadyrov’s videos was during the early stages of Russia’s war in Ukraine when the fighter accompanied Kadyrov during a visit to some of Ukraine’s occupied regions. His trip took place just days after he posted a video montage that included clips of him armed with a machine gun and a tactical vest packed with extra ammunition.
Ramzan Kadyrov’s henchmen are posting videos of Chechen troops being deployed to Ukraine.— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) February 25, 2022
This one, posted by former UFC fighter turned government official Abdelkerim Edilov, carried the caption: “We are prepared to live and ready to die by the way of Kadyrov” pic.twitter.com/lDb9QDFqN5
““We are prepared to live and ready to die by the way of Kadyrov”,” read the caption on his now-deleted Instagram page.
The circumstances surrounding Edilov’s death remain unclear. Kadyrov is also yet to confirm the news or offer his public condolences, as he has previously done in similar situations. Instead, the dictator posted an Instagram story of himself doing push-ups.