MMA Fighter/Armed Robber Awarded Medal From Putin After Serving In Ukraine

An Armenian MMA fighter and convicted armed robber has been rewarded with a medal for courage by Russian president Vladimir Putin after he served in Ukraine.

It’s been nearly a year since the Russian war effort got underway in Ukraine, with the invasion beginning last February. Since then, countless civilians and soldiers have lost their lives in a war that’s caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis in almost a century.

Amidst reports of slow progress and subsequent pushback from Ukrainian forces in the second half of 2022, Russia began a mass conscription. While the ‘partial mobilization’ was said to see 300,000 men enlisted to fight, many have suggested the tally has gone well beyond that figure.

The move has even seen convicted criminals brought into the army, including mixed martial artist Hayk Gasparyan. The 31-year-old was just months into a seven-year sentence having been sent to a maximum-security prison in Ryazan for armed robbery.

Not only was the Armenian freed in order to fight Putin’s war in Russia, but he’s now been honored with a medal.

After being pardoned by a secret decree, Gasparyan was recently seen receiving the ‘Order of Courage’ award from the Russian leader during a state TV broadcast that showed Putin greeting soldiers at an event in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Gasparyan served as part of the Wagner group, a band of mercenaries created through the mass recruitment of Russian prisoners. As well as the MMA fighter, 40,000 violent criminals are said to have been freed in exchange for their service in the army, including murderers and rapists.

Per a report from the Mirror, one such released prisoner is Dmitry Karyagin. The 36-year-old was put behind bars after brutally murdering his 87-year-old grandmother with a hammer nine years ago. Like Gasparyan, he was granted his release after serving six months in Ukraine.

MMA Fighter Gasparyan’s Career Prior To Armed Robbery Arrest

Prior to his incarceration, Hayk Gasparyan competed as an MMA fighter. During his time in the cage, the Armenian amassed a 6-12 professional record, with all of his victories coming via submission.

Gasparyan’s MMA exploits include outings under the banners of M-1 Global, one of Russia’s premier promotions, and Absolute Championship Akhmat, an organization owned by controversial Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov.

In his most recent outing, at Veles Fighting Championship 2 in 2019, Gasparyan’s losing skid was extended to three courtesy of a second-round knockout loss to Alexey Zhuravlev.

Having not competed in MMA for almost three years, Gasparyan was convicted last year of stealing over $3,000 at gunpoint from a man outside a Moscow bank.

What do you make of the MMA fighter’s release from jail and military service in Ukraine?