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Kadyrov’s MMA promotion plans Grand Prix tournaments with $10m prize fund

The Kadyrov-owned Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) revealed its plans in a press release last week. 

dpa-Story Chechnya Photo by Emile Alain Ducke/picture alliance via Getty Images

Ramzan Kadyrov continues to expand his influence over the sport of mixed martial arts.

Most recently, the MMA organization owned by the Chechen dictator accused of gross human rights abuses, Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA), is planning to hold grand prix tournaments across all weight classes with a total prize fund of $10 million.

The news was first announced in an ACA press release.

“Dear friends! I want to share good news with you. In 2023, Grand Prix tournaments will be held in each weight of the ACA League, including in the light weight category! Their total prize fund will be more than $ 10 million,” ACA founder Mairbek Khasiev said in the press release. “This decision was made due to the fact that the Lightweight Grand Prix, which has already started and will end in the middle of the year, turned out to be rating and very resonant.

“And in general, as for me, this is the most honest and interesting format for identifying the best fighter! So stay tuned for what is perhaps the most promising and hopefully successful year in ACA history. PS You wanted cool news, get it.”

The aforementioned lightweight grand prix happened to be the tournament that saw Khasiev unilaterally stop a quarter-final bout between former ACA welterweight champion Ali Bagov and former UFC fighter Rashid Magomedov at the start of the fifth round due to inactivity. He proceeded to disqualify both fighters and declared the fight a “no contest,” adding that ACA was “not a kindergarten.”

Last week, reported that ACA is currently in negotiations to purchase veteran Russian MMA organization AMC Fight Nights. The deal, which is yet to be finalized but is expected to conclude in the coming weeks, would see Kadyrov’s ACA become the biggest MMA organization in Russia.

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.

Despite the restrictions, the recent developments with ACA signal Kadyrov’s continued investment in MMA and his determination to expand his scope of influence over the sport.

About the author: Karim Zidan is an investigative reporter for Bloody Elbow focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. His work is also a contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian. (full bio)