Putin attends bare knuckle fight with Van Damme

ITN News

by ITN News

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently took Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme to watch a championship match of Ultimate Fighting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Ultimate Fighting - known in Russia as "Fight Without Rules" -- is a combination of boxing and karate where almost all moves are allowed.

Putin and Van Damme, who have known each other for a long time, attended the Mixed Fight European Championship. The Russian fighting art sambo, referred to by Putin, is a mixed martial art and derives from an acronym meaning "self defence without weapons".

Fighters from Russia's M-1 Global and Sambo-70 clubs fought against the best European contenders.

This is not the first time Van Damme has come to Russia for the Mixed Martial Arts Championship.

In 2007, he watched the Mixed Fight Championship between teams from Russia and the United States in St. Petersburg's where he sat together with then-Russian president Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Putin is a judo black belt and an honorary president of the European Judo Union.