Guram Kutateladze is one of many fighters who have struggled to obtain U.S. visas.
With the majority of UFC events now taking place in the United States, Sweden-based Kutateladze has voiced his frustration on behalf of all fighters struggling to get their U.S. visas approved in time for their fights and thinks it’s about time the process got expedited.
Things have gotten even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic and Kutateladze saw his most recent fight booking against Don Madge in July fall through partially due to his ongoing visa issues.
“With this letter I’d like to address American embassies and raise our voices about American-visa-issue that becomes more and more painful these days for the fighters (moreover in this pandemic circumstances). So I believe to address them not only from myself, but be representing a common problem that unfortunately many fighters are facing and sometimes this little visa issue can turn into a life changing thing.
Being a fighter and choosing fighting other people as your career is not the same as being an engineer or a doctor or a teacher. This is not that kind of job where you as a professional individual become better and better after years pass by. Being an active professional MMA fighter is a short journey that may last for several years only and that’s why in this journey every year and every month counts.
“Working experience” in our MMA profession is different, because we depend much on our physical condition and the peak of it is too short. Of course as all others, we gain knowledge through the time, but still your actual fighting career inside the octagon is very limited with your body condition.
Many of us are missing our opportunities to fight on the suitable events just only because of the complicated visa policies. For some of us it may take months or an year or even years to get the American visa. It took me several months to get the interview for my American working visa, even though I had one tourist visa before. And not to mention how many fight offers were missed for this reason. I truly believe that our career is too short to go through this long bureaucratic procedures. At the same time, I’m not meaning that fighters should be visa free, but I believe that our promotion such as UFC with its resources is doing their best to help fighters with the US visa application and assist to make the process smoother, but we still hope for a better cooperation from all sides, including the embassies.
Seeing how fighters are tweeting and tagging embassies, asking them for the interview appointment – feels wrong. Seeing how embassies respond and make appointments through tweets – also feels wrong. Having a very limited number of years for your fighting career and spending a big part of it just waiting for visas – feels wrong too.
Kind regards , Guram K.”
Kutateladze’s message comes in the wake of Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast’s struggle to get their U.S. visas approved in time. While both fighters ended up obtaining themm ahead of their UFC 266 matchup Saturday, they are set to arrive just hours before they weigh in due to the lagged process.
Since joining the UFC roster in October 2020, Kutateladze has only competed once in a big debut win over Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 254. A slew of injuries – including knee surgery – as well as visa issues have kept him on the sidelines.
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