Millennium Discovers: MMA - Russia's Extreme Obsession

Discovery / Sport

On a Sunday morning in suburban Moscow, a crowd is gathering around a ring.

Fans have come to watch fighters punch, kick and knee their opponents in the brutal sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).

Across Russia and the former USSR, millions share a passion for this extreme sport, with superstar fighters earning a fortune and inspiring a new generation. But critics say political leaders are using the sport to promote their own interests.

Al Jazeera’s 101 East goes inside the violent world of MMA, from backstreet brawls where amateurs take their early knocks, all the way to the top of Russian society.