It's no secret that the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a fan of MMA. The widely criticized Dictator is infamous for his fitness videos and for inviting MMA fighters to the Russian republic.
Most recently, Kadyrov invited former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, former flyweight and bantamweight king Henry Cejudo, and former interim lightweight titleholder Justin Gaethje to a birthday party for his son.
The trio were also seen testing firearms at a military compound in Chechnya and posing with Kadyrov's son, Ali. The latest fighter to be associated with the dictator's family is former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Cody Garbrandt is currently in Dubai training with the All-Star MMA team alongside Ali Abdel Aziz, Khamzat Chimaev and Ali Kadyrov.
In a picture posted by the Dictator's son on his Instagram account, Ali Kadyrov can be seen posing with Cody Garbrandt and welterweight (and middleweight) phenom Khamzat Chimaev.
MMA fans somewhat understand Khamzat Chimaev's position in relation to the Chechen warlord. However, they aren't so kind towards western UFC stars who have been associated with the dictator.
Justin Gaethje was recently called out by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy for meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov after the lightweight fighter dismissed Paddy Pimblett's performance and claims for a bonus at UFC 282.
Sean O'Malley refused Ramzan Kadyrov's invitation to Chechnya
So far, only Sean O'Malley is the UFC fighter to have refused Ramzan Kadyrov's invitation to the Russian republic. The No.1-ranked bantamweight contender discussed the topic with his brother Daniel O'Malley in a now-private video of the Bromalley podcast.
'Sugar' said that he was invited by the Chechen dictator to attend his son's birthday, as Usman, Cejudo, and Gaethje did. However, he said that he declined the invitation on the advice of Sanabul founder Imran Jawaid. Here's what O'Malley said about the whole situation:
"The reason we never really ended up going [to Chechnya] is because we were saying like, who is this for? And then we didn't really get an answer. So, I'm like, 'F*** that!' Imran [Jawaid], you know, I listen to Imran's advice and Imran was like, 'Hey, I don't have a good feeling about this. Let's not move forward with that.'"
'Sugar' referred to Ramzan Kadyrov as a murderer, citing that as the reason for refusing the invitation. O'Malley also took the opportunity to thrash Henry Cejudo for hanging out with the Chechen warlord. He said that the Olympic wrestler accepted the invitation because he was broke (as a result of not fighting since 2020), and he needed the money.
Sean O'Malley last fought Petr Yan in an intense back-and-forth fight and won a controversial decision at UFC 280. Henry Cejudo took the opportunity to compare O'Malley to Paddy Pimblett, who won a lopsided decision victory over Jared Gordon at UFC 282. Cejudo said that O'Malley should fight Pimblett since the judges wouldn't know 'who to rob.'