Foley & Lardner LLP Partner Christopher Swift is quoted in the CNN article, “UFC maintains links with Russian fighters and others connected to sanctioned Chechen warlord despite Ukraine invasion,” discussing the concept of “sportswashing,” the method through which regimes or leaders use the power of sport to enhance reputation.
Swift said that sportswashing is a commonly used tactic in the toolbox of strongman rulers like Ramzan Kadyrov, the sanctioned Chechen warlord linked with individuals associated with the UFC, particularly given martial arts’ huge popularity in Chechnya.
“Kadyrov is…coopting the images. This is Kadyrov’s way of sportswashing and managing his constituency inside Chechnya,” Swift explained. “It also resonates with his image as a tough guy and a fixer and an enforcer. And so it’s not a surprise that he would be involved with UFC and would want to be seen as associated with the UFC.”