Ramzan Kadyrov, ruler of Chechnya, has publicly criticized the UFC and its CEO Dana White after his fighter Magomed Ankalaev was awarded a split draw in the event’s main event at UFC 282.
After Ankalaev was denied the vacant light-heavyweight championship, Kadyrov lashed out at UFC President Dana White in an extremely unusual English-language social media post on Sunday, citing “politics” and “dirty” officiating as the causes.
“Dana White, what happened to you?” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.
“You were a normal, principled man, and today you took the championship belt out of the ring without handing it to the clear winner. Or has politics entered the UFC ring and requires you to referee dirty? It’s a sport, Dana. Be honest.”
Kadyrov’s comments pertain to the main event at UFC 282, in which Ankalaev challenged Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light-heavyweight championship.
Due to champion Jiri Prochazka’s shoulder injury during training camp, this bout, which had been slated as the co-main event of the night, has been moved up to the main event of the UFC’s last pay-per-view event of the year.
The unexpected turn of events not only gave Ankalaev his first championship chance in the world’s largest MMA company, but it also demonstrated the increasing power of a warlord within the UFC.
Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya, is regularly accused of orchestrating human rights abuses, including assassinations, abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, and purges targeting the local LGBTQ+ community. Ankalaev is one of a handful of UFC fighters currently affiliated with Kadyrov.
Their history together began in 2016 when Ankalaev became a member of Akhmat MMA, a mixed martial arts gym that Kadyrov created with funding from the Chechen government. The fighter, originally from Dagestan, has been Kadyrov’s representative ever since, even throughout his time in the UFC.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued a ban on U.S. citizens and anyone physically present in the United States from engaging in any business with Kadyrov, but that hasn’t stopped Ankalaev from keeping in touch with him. At the time, “extrajudicial death, torture, or other egregious abuses” were given as one of the reasons for sanctioning Kadyrov by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. A number of Kadyrov’s enterprises, notably Akhmat MMA, will be subject to penalties from the United States Treasury in 2020.
Kadyrov wants the UFC to change its mind and make Ankalaev the champion since he would have been the first UFC champion from his country.
“Hey, Dana White, were are you going? Save the face of the league, your own face. Admit your mistake, give the belt to the real winner, and apologize for this show. Save your league’s reputation.”