Russian star comments on Kadyrov relations after US fight scrapped
Russian UFC star Maxim Grishin has denied that a birthday message to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was behind his recent US visa problems, but revealed that he was advised “not to associate himself” with the Grozny-based Akhmat Fight Club.
Grishin was due to face Brazil’s Jailton Almeida at UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis on November 5, but this week it emerged that the bout had been scrapped at less than 10 days’ notice for the second time this year.
Speaking to Match TV in his homeland about the circumstances surrounding the cancelation, Grishin said he had endured delays with obtaining a US visa because of a “failure in the system.”
“I don't have a visa refusal. I was asked a question regarding my past activities,” said Grishin, who has completed Russian military service and said he had flown to an American base in Bahrain in a bid to expedite his visa process.
“I pointed out the place where I studied, [and] the name of my military specialty, [which] sounds loud given the current situation,” Grishin said.
Grishin was asked by Match TV if he believed that a social media post he shared alongside Chechen leader Kadyrov, who is sanctioned by the US, may have played a role in his visa delays.
“In this photo, I congratulated the head of the Chechen Republic on his birthday,” said the 38-year-old.
“Yes, there were recommendations, I was told that it is better not to associate myself with the Akhmat Fight Club, which I am a representative of.
“But this is not just a contract, we have brotherly relations. I considered it cowardly.
“Sport is separate from politics, why should I hide something? I don’t do anything bad to the universe, why should the universe do bad things to me?”
The Akhmat Fight Club was founded by Kadyrov in 2014 and named after his late father, who was assassinated a decade earlier.
Kadyrov is a well-known combat sports fan and is often pictured alongside some of Russia’s most famous fighters, including the likes of UFC stars Islam Makhachev and Chechen hero Khamzat Chimaev.
Grishin, however, claimed that his visa issues were “absolutely unrelated” to his photo with Kadyrov.
“This is how it happened: I communicated with the consul, he leafed through the questionnaire and asked questions about it,” Grishin added.
“You just have to be prepared to answer these questions. I could not document some points. I was told to send the documents so they could make a decision.”
Grishin said he is “waiting for a solution” to his situation, having already been in America to train before being required to leave to get a work visa.
Meanwhile, his planned opponent Almeida has since been rescheduled to fight veteran Russian Shamil Abdurakhimov in a heavyweight bout at UFC 283 on January 21 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Grishin holds a 32-9 record in professional MMA, and last appeared in the octagon in February, when he battled to a unanimous decision heavyweight win over William Knight at UFC 271 in Houston.