Images courtesy of @ZidanSports on Twitter
Justin Gaethje and former UFC champions Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, all fighters managed by Ali Abdelaziz, were recently spotted in Chechnya at the invitation of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. In a tweet by Karim Zidan, the three fighters were captured testing out weapons at a special forces facility in the Republic’s capital, Gudermes.
“Former UFC champs Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, along with Justin Gaethje, are all currently in Chechnya at the invitation of the republic’s warlord Ramzan Kadyrov. Here they are testing out guns at a special forces facility in Gudermes.”
Former UFC champs Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, along with Justin Gaethje, are all currently in Chechnya at the invitation of the republic’s warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
Here they are testing out guns at a special forces facility in Gudermes. pic.twitter.com/lJIm8kBHRS
— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) November 25, 2022
Undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev has had a longstanding relationship with the Chechen warlord for some time, but this is the first that Justin Gaethje, Kamaru Usman, and Henry Cejudo have been associated with the man accused of multiple human rights abuses including anti-LGBTQ purges in the Republic and advocating to restrict the rights of women. If that weren’t enough, Kadyrov has also been accused of kidnapping, torture, and assassinations since he assumed office in 2007.
Fans Are Not Happy with UFC Fighters Associating With the Chechen Warlord
The relationship between the United States and Russia has always been strained. That was further exacerbated by Russia’s needless invasion of Ukraine which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians on top of leaving 7.6 million Ukrainians and Russians displaced.
Many MMA fans on Twitter responded negatively to the revelation that three of the UFC’s most successful fighters have chosen to associate with such a contentious figure, particularly in the midst of a war that a majority of the world is very much against. Twitter user @ridingbycycles said:
“That’s just absolutely vile. I can tolerate Chimaev’s relationship with Kadyrov because he appears to be in a hole he can’t get out of. But for American athletes to embrace this is a disgrace.”
That’s just absolutely vile. I can tolerate Chimaev’s relationship with Kadyrov because he appears to be in a hole he can’t get out of. But for American athletes to embrace this is a disgrace.
— Darren Ryding (@rydingbicycles) November 25, 2022
Another Twitter user, @GMCManning, says that he is done rooting for the trio of fighters after their association with Kadyrov.
“Well…guess I’ll be rooting for all their opponents from now on.”
Well…guess I’ll be rooting for all their opponents from now on. 🤷️
— Graham Manning (@GMCManning) November 25, 2022
You can check out more fans’ responses below and let us know what you think in the comments.
Terribly low bar to set, but this is MMA, so… “Doesn’t party with dictators” might as well be a saint in this sport.
— Dave “Wounded Antelope” Rubin (@TheTraaaaashMan) November 25, 2022
And there will be people who say: “Let’s separate politics from sports, don’t mix it.” Yeah. They flew there to create a good image of a terrible person, a grotesque dictator. Shame.
— Bartłomiej Maźniak (@BartMazniak) November 25, 2022
That’s it! Never supporting Ali’s fighters ever again. I hope they all lose their next fights.
— Daniel Dragovic (@dragovic_daniel) November 25, 2022
May they all collect nothing but L’s for the rest of their careers.
— Disciple of Sagan (@DiscipleofSagan) November 25, 2022
Cejudo says he’s American and loves America. Blah blah hahahah what a joke this guy is
— takume (@partsuknown12) November 25, 2022