Mixed martial arts fights can be tough to watch even when the participants are adults in peak physical condition. It's one thing when the battles are staged for fictional TV shows and created for video games, but it can be another situation entirely when the participants are genuinely pummeling the stuffing out of each other. A network in Russia recently aired a series of real MMA fights that actually featured children, much to the chagrin of some of the people watching. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov entered three sons into MMA fights on a recent nationally televised event.
During the TV event, 10-year old Akhmad Kadyrov defeated another boy in a cage fight by a technical knockout. His younger brothers Eli and Adam competed as well, both winning their fights against other boys. The youngest child to be involved in what seems to have been a kiddie version of MMA was eight years old. None of the boys involved wore head protection.
The focus of the event was primarily on bouts between adults, but the kids got the same MMA star treatment as the much older fighters. They evidently entered the ring with background music celebrating the upcoming fight, and their names were announced in the same manner as the professionals. The boys were rewarded with belts when they won, because of course they were. The commentators were even in on the spectacle, providing the regular MMA commentary for the kids.
The adults in the audience at the event were supportive of the boys' fights, cheering loudly whenever the pre-pubescent fists began to fly. Ramzan Kadyrov watched his sons' bouts from the sidelines. His conduct almost certainly would have ruffled feathers even if he had been a regular citizen. As the recently re-elected and Moscow-supported leader of Chechnya, his behavior has come under much closer scrutiny. His Russian presidential pal Vladimir Putin hasn't had anything to say, but MMA pro Fedor Emelianenko has been vocal about the dangers of letting children into a mixed martial arts ring.
Fedor Emelianenko came out and lambasted Kadyrov's decision to let his sons fight as "unacceptable" also saying it "cannot be justified." He made note of the toll that such scuffles can take on the health - mental and physical - of children. The pro fighter was further appalled that the spectacle of boys in the MMA ring was nationally televised. Fortunately, Emelianenko has ideas of what restrictions should be used regarding MMA, according to ESPN. If he has his way, kids under the age of 12 would be barred entirely from MMA fights, and anybody under the age of 21 would be required to wear protective gear in the ring.
Akhmad Kadyrov doesn't seem to have any regrets about allowing his sons to fight on national television. In fact, he has celebrated their bouts on social media. Given the fact that Kadyrov has been known to challenge ministers who oppose him to boxing matches, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that he doesn't oppose his own children entering the MMA circuit at such a young age. We have to hope that Fedor Emelianenko's ideas are implemented to allow greater protection for anybody and everybody who wants to dabble in mixed martial arts.
Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch to get the image of young boys in the MMA ring out of your mind.