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Just in case the whole mixed martial arts scene didn’t seem sketchy as hell already, there is this story from The New York Times:

As the war in Ukraine heads into winter, Ramzan Kadyrov, one of the closest allies of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, is gaining more visibility and propagandist fodder through his connections with Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters and others in mixed martial arts.

And although the U.F.C. as a company has repeatedly said its business has no connections to Kadyrov and that it follows all laws, government officials in the United States say they are aware of the apparent ties between U.F.C. athletes and Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya who faces severe legal restrictions.

The whole thing is weird. The story has a bunch of details, but draws no real conclusions from them, leaving the impression —right or wrong—that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

I can think of all sorts of reasons this guy might be interested in the UFC, from the very mundane—he thinks it’s super-cool and is a big fan—to the highly wacky and conspiratorial. The Times provides no help here; I get the sense from the article that they find the whole thing distasteful. So do I, but it seems like a bit more analysis might have been useful.

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