Abuzayed Vismuradov, the man in charge of Ramzan Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA fight club, is overseeing the latest batch of troops being deployed to fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.
Vismuradov, who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2018 for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” can be seen rallying Kadyrov’s troops alongside Magomed “Lord” Daudov, the president of Kadyrov’s FC Akhmat football club.
The footage can be viewed here.
Known by his nom de guerre, Patriot, Vismuradov is considered to be one of the three most powerful men in Chechnya. His position of influence was attained through fierce loyalty to Kadyrov. Vismuradov, a member of Kadyrov’s clan (via paternal blood tie), went to the same school as Kadyrov and later fought alongside him during the Chechen wars. Since Ramzan’s rise to power, Patriot has commanded Chechnya’s Special Forces, the Terek Special Rapid Response Team, as well as Kadyrov’s private security detail – a national security trifecta that makes him indispensable to Kadyrov’s government.
While Vismuradov is one of the most dangerous men in Chechnya, he also happens to be an influential figure in the world of mixed martial arts. Vismuradov is responsible for thousands of Chechen athletes who train at the Akhmat MMA facility and played a significant role in expanding relations between the fight club and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He was even pictured alongside UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby during the UFC’s debut event in Moscow several years ago.
The Akhmat MMA fight club, which was founded in 2015, consists of an MMA promotion and several training facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet states. The fight club is sponsored by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and bears the name of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Fighters who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly stipends that cover medical expenses, training costs, and travel fees. Depending on the level of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive cars and other ostentatious goods.
While a handful of Kadyrov’s fighters have managed to join the UFC and other fight leagues, many of those who do not become professional fighters are funneled into Kadyrov’s private army instead.
Considering that Vismuradov is supposed to be in charge of Kadyrov’s fight club, his involvement in the ongoing war in Ukraine emphasizes the link between sports and politics within Chechnya and confirms that the Akhmat MMA fight club is an extension of Kadyrov’s tyrannical government.