Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has challenged UFC to take on his fighters in a battle to the death.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has challenged UFC to take on his fighters in a battle to the death. Denis Tyrin

UFC challenged to fight to the death

CHECHNYAN president Ramzan Kadyrov has made a chilling offer to the UFC - your fighters against mine in a battle to the death.

The controversial leader, who took control of the Russian republic in 2007 after his father was assassinated three years earlier, controls an army of 20,000-30,000 federal troops and dominates through an unforgiving brand of vigilante justice.

He's also a huge sports fan who enjoys football and combat sports. Kadyrov has created his own MMA fight league named after his father, Akhmat MMA, which he believes houses the toughest fighters in the world.

In a rare interview with HBO, he revealed his plans to prove it. Akhmat v the UFC. No judges. No stoppages.

"Sooner or later, I think we will prove we have the best fighters,” Kadyrov told the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel program.

"We propose that UFC and Akhmat face off in a tournament ... And we'll see who has the strongest fighters. I think it would be quite a spectacle. They would fight to the end. A fight to the death.”

Kadyrov believes growing up in war-torn cities has prepared his fighters to make the ultimate sacrifice - a sacrifice he dreams of making on the battlefield one day.

"I've been fighting since I was 15,” Kadyrov told HBO. "I know what war is. I'm an excellent soldier and a good strategist.

"I love to fight. I was born and raised in war. To die in battle would be my greatest joy.”

The interview was Kadyrov's first with a Western journalist in three years. HBO producer Jordan Kronick told Sports Illustrated it took two trips to Chechnya to secure it.

"On the first trip, we waited nine days before we had to leave empty-handed as our Russian visas were set to expire,” Kronic said.

"He has a history of making journalists wait days and days before summoning them to palace. Maybe that was it.

"He seems to have disdain for the West and its media. Maybe he was just messing with us. Or maybe the reason was more basic - that Ramadan was fast approaching and he was too busy.

"We proposed to them that if they would reiterate their agreement to the interview, we would come back to Grozny for no longer than 24 hours.

"This time around we got summoned to the palace on our first night there.

"First, we were told to go to the palace's private soccer field to watch Kadyrov play. Then we were sent to the palace stateroom to set up the interview.

"Then, a few hours later, he showed up at around 2am to start the interview ... Maybe our persistence in going there twice persuaded him.”

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