Footage has emerged showing UFC contender Khamzat Chimaev sparring with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen dictator accused of countless human rights abuses.
Chimaev could be seen training with Kadyrov in his local fight club, where he allowed himself to be punched repeatedly and taken down by the dictator. Kadyrov even attempted to lock in several submission attempts.
The undefeated welterweight also trained with Kadyrov’s children, serving as a punching bag for the teenagers.
“Despite the formidable and eminent opponent, the BOYS were in no way inferior to Khamzat in skill,” Kadyrov wrote on social media. “As befits the fighters, they analyzed the movements and weaknesses of the opponent, after which they proceeded to counterattacks. At the end of the training, I myself could not resist the temptation to test my strength in a friendly duel with our dear brother.”
Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya like his personal fiefdom since rising to power in 2007, is routinely accused of orchestrating human rights abuses including assassinations, abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and purges targeting the local LGBTQ+ community. He also uses sports such as football and MMA to distract from his ongoing abuses and to help whitewash his image on a global stage, which is why he launched his Akhmat MMA fight club in 2015.
Chimaev has visited Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA fight club on numerous occasions, including after the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) levied sanctions against the gym in December 2020.
Chimaev is also considered to be among Kadyrov’s favorite fighters. The dictator gifted Chimaev a luxury Mercedes Benz (which Chimaev promptly crashed), sparred with Chimaev on camera, and posed with the fighter for a photo op on several occasions.
Read more about Chimaev’s troubling relationship with Kadyrov here.