In Russia and the former USSR, the extreme combat sport MMA has become a social phenomenon. The champions are superstars, adulated by their fans and paid fortunes. More than a sport, MMA is a social elevator, a political tool and even an instrument of propaganda glorifying the Russian man: virile, invicible and ready to defend the fatherland.
Mixing politics and MMA is a specialty of this region. Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s ultra-authoritarian leader, uses it as political weapon to enhance the region’s image, as well as his own reputation. He has launched MMA clubs all over Chechnya, developed his own professional league and built up a team of champions who fight under his colors.
In Russia, MMA can lead to anything, even to political power. President Putin rarely misses an opportunity to show off his black belt in Judo. In Krasnogorsk, the town’s Deputy Mayor, is something of a political anomaly. Jeff Monson is American, knows nothing about running a town, and doesn’t speak a word of Russian. He has, however a former MMA star, and his path was smoothed by Vadimar Putin.
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Acclaimed filmmaker, Katja Fedulova left Russia aged 18, over 20 years ago. But the homeland for which her grandmother fought continues to haunt her. She returns home with one big question: Are there still heroines in Putin's Russia?More info