The UFC no longer signs Russian fighters. The reason for this is the US authorities
Khabib’s team manager is sounding the alarm. According to Abdelaziz, we could lose dozens of future Khabibs.
Russian athletes are being banned from tournaments in all sports, but professional MMA has so far been the least affected by this trend. The UFC is still ready to give the Russians the opportunity to fight for the belt, and Dana White finds ways to avoid conflicts with flags – instead of banning Russian symbols, the boss simply forbade entering the octagon with the flag of any country.
But Dana White cannot influence everything, and the key thing he is powerless in is issuing visas. Russian fighters are deprived of the opportunity to fight in the United States because of their passports, and this is not only talked about in our country. Alarming messages were noted by the chief MMA manager in the industry, Ali Abdel-Aziz. The Egyptian was indignant at the attitude towards Russian and, in particular, Caucasian fighters because of the situation in the world.
Ali Abdelaziz with Khabib
Photo: From the personal archive of Khabib Nurmagomedov
“This whole political thing affects a lot of Russian athletes, especially guys from Dagestan, Chechnya and the Caucasus, and no one talks about it. It’s sad because these guys didn’t do anything wrong. It is very difficult for them to get a visa. And I know that many Khabibs, Islams and Zabits will come from this region. I know if you’re still giving these guys opportunities, I have a lot of respect for you. And if not, I totally understand too,” the manager tweeted.
Ali is not the main truth teller in martial arts, but if he touched on the problem, then it really exists. Abdel-Aziz is as knowledgeable as possible – the Egyptian is the first to receive all the insides, and therefore knows what he is talking about. Of course, Ali has his own benefit: fighters from the Caucasus are his target audience. But such a problem really exists, and it will not be possible to solve it in the near future. On the contrary, things can only get worse.
In 2022, only two fighters from Russia signed a contract with the UFC – Hussein Askhabov and Denis Tyulyulin. But the first had previously received a French passport. The second one was probably a little lucky, because he had a visa at the time of the announcement of the fight.
The fact that the Russians do not want to issue visas is also evidenced by Dana White’s contender’s series. Bright winners of this tournament regularly broke into the UFC, but in the new season, where 10 tournaments are planned, only one representative of Russia, Victoria Dudakova, has been announced so far. Apparently, the girl managed to get a visa in advance.
Dana White and Donald Trump
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
So perhaps Ali Abdelaziz is right when he says that young Russian fighters risk being left without the chance of a lifetime. Signing them in order to then pack them for tournaments in the UAE and Europe is a so-so idea. It’s easier to just push these guys and do everything for those Russians who are already on the roster, who are promoted and make a profit.
Of course, Dana White would like to get a new Khabib or Petr Yan, but for now there is only one way – to look for Russians with dual citizenship. At the moment, when our guys are denied visas not only by the States, but also by England, the path to the UFC and other promotions for Russians, Dagestanis, Chechens and other representatives of Russia may be closed.