The U.S. Department of Teasury announced sanctions on Thursday for human rights violations against the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov.
As well as sanctioning Kadyrov directly, the sanctions also apply to his MMA organizations: Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) and Akhmat MMA.
The U.S. Department of Treasury announced sanctions on Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov's MMA promotion and fight club (Akhmat MMA + ACA).— Karim Zidan كريم زيدان (@ZidanSports) December 10, 2020
After five years of reporting on Kadyrov's use of MMA as a soft power strategy to distract from human rights abuses, it has finally happened pic.twitter.com/Tcrb92t4Hk
The sanctions follow ongoing human rights violations conducted by Kadyrov's organization the Kadyrovtsy, who have engaged in such activities as the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. In 2017, Kadyrov had been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act for being responsible for such human rights violations as extrajudicial killing, torture, as well as hate crimes against the LGBT community.
Kadyrov has come to prominence in the MMA space in recent years due to attempts to "sports-wash" his reputation either directly through his MMA fight club (Akhmat MMA) and his MMA promotion (Absolute Championship Akhmat), or indirectly through connections to high profile MMA fighters. This has most obviously been seen through Russian lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but also through many fighters connected through super-agent Ali Abdel-Aziz.
The impact that this will have in the MMA space remains to be seen. There are many American fighters who have plied their trade inside an ACA ring. One such example is current heavyweight champion Tony Johnson. One would have to expect that will no longer be possible. In addition, there are many Russian-based fighters who are connected to Kadyrov and Akhmat MMA. It is currently unknown how, if at all, this will affect their ability to do business within the United States.