There is no doubt that the world of mixed martial arts is growing and interest in the sport is reaching new fans every week. Kids can even go to MMA gyms to work on their skills these days in the United States, but in Russia, youth MMA is apparently a real interest for some.

Ramzan Kadyrov, a Russian leader in Chechnya who is a friend of Vladamir Putin and has been accused of human rights violations before, had his sons participate in an exhibition MMA fight involving children as young as eight years old. The event was televised and one of his sons, 10-year old Akhmad Kadyrov, won by a technical knockout. Kadyrov’s other two sons also won their exhibition matches. The exhibition matches between the children was reportedly given the full-scale professional treatment complete with entrance music and served as an undercard to bouts between adults later in the evening.

Not everybody seems to be on the board with the thought of young children being involved in such a high-profile event, which should come as no surprise given the nature of the sport. Fedor Emelianenko, a Russian professional MMA fighter called the sideshow “unacceptable in an Instagram post.

“What happened at the tournament in Grozny is unacceptable and, moreover, cannot be justified,” said Emelianenko. “There were little ones, eight years old, punching each other in front of happy adults. Is it really so important for you to organize a spectacle at the cost of children’s health?!”

Emelianenko does not think any children under the age of 12 should be invovled in any MMA fights and strongly believes anyone under the age of 21 should be wearing proper headgear for safety concerns if they do participate in such an event.

[Associated Press]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.