Fabricio Werdum explains how Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov gave him a Mercedes

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In 2015, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a lucrative contract to become an ambassador for a mixed martial arts fighting club run by Ramzan Kadyrov.

The incident marked the first time a UFC fighter had established a relationship with the Chechen dictator accused of well-documented human rights abuses including enforced disappearances, torture, summary executions and a purge of the LGBTQ+ community in Chechnya.

As the official representative of the so-called Akhmat MMA fight club, Werdum’s responsibilities included regular visits to Chechnya, training fighters chosen by the dictator, and promoting the club on social media and at UFC events.

During an episode of the Brazilian podcast Podpah, Werdum recalled how his decision to promote Kadyrov’s fight club at a UFC event landed him a Mercedes Benz.

“So I represented Akhmat Fight Club for three years,” Werdum said. “So whenever I said something, it was always Akhmat Sila. I was the president’s MMA rep, right? Then I fought in the UFC… So I’m in the fight, the fight is over, I won, I gave the interview and when Joe Rogan left, I took the microphone and I said “Akhmat Sila”.

“Man, when I said ‘Akhmat Sila,’ I came down from the octagon and the president called me on FaceTime, ‘Werdum, I really liked that! Akhmat Sila! When you get home, go where you want and buy the car you want, I want to give you a car as a gift. I said, ‘No, I can’t take it.’ ‘Yes you can, take the car you want’… I went to Mercedes, I stopped at Mercedes very quickly.

Akhmat Sila is a battle cry popularized by Kadyrov which translates to Akhmat Power. It is a propaganda slogan used by Kadyrov loyalists to honor Akhmad Kadyrov, the father of the Chechen strongman who was killed in 2004.

Werdum’s affiliation with Kadyrov has raised concerns about associating prominent UFC fighters with a warlord with a long list of human rights abuses to his name. However, when the UFC was asked about the relationship in 2015, the organization declared that “UFC fighters operate as independent business partners, not employees, and that subject to their contractual commitments to the UFC, they are free to conduct business and participate in activities of their choosing” .


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