Akmal Khojiyev, Russian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of Uzbek origin, was arrested Nov. 7 by the Guam Police Department after allegedly stabbing and killing a doctor during a COVID-19 dispute in Tamuning, according to multiple reports from local news outlets.
Khojiyev, 27, faces charges of first-degree felony aggravated murder with a deadly weapon and second-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Bail for Khojiyev was set at $1 million, MMA Junkie reports.
According to a witness, Khojiyev and Dr. Miran Ribati, a radiologist at Guam Memorial Hospital, engaged in an altercation at an apartment complex after a heated debate over the COVID-19 vaccine. The witness said the altercation got physical when Khojiyev choked Ribati unconscious and stabbed him in the throat with an animal bone from a meal the two had shared. Khojiyev allegedly then grabbed a knife and stabbed the doctor again.
Police responded to the scene where they reportedly found Ribati face down in a pool of his own blood. “Sir, it’s me, it’s me, I killed him,” Khojiyev reportedly told police.
J.J. Ambrose, a veteran MMA fighter who competed for Bellator among other promotions, used to employ Khojiyev at Steel Athletics in Tamuning and said he was not surprised to hear about the violent altercation. Ribati, like Khojiyev trained for years at the gym.
“He was such a great person up until he wasn’t,” Ambrose told KUAM. “We did everything we possibly could to warn people that AK wasn’t AK anymore. … It’s very hard ’cause I know when you’re friends with two people and those two people are on the outs, you don’t want to take sides. You want to ride in the middle. But in this case, AK seriously needed help, and that was the problem – that people were not trying to take sides, and he seriously needed help this whole time.”
In a statement to Pacific Daily News, Guam Memorial Hospital praised Ribati for his dedication and skills as a physician.
“It is with a heavy, shocked and saddened heart that the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority shares the passing of one of its esteemed physicians, Dr. Miran Ribati. Dr. Ribati was an Interventional Radiologist at GMHA, serving the community for over three years. His talents were undeniable and impeccable; his passion unparalleled; his accolades from patients in droves. He will be sorely missed among colleagues, staff and the entire Guam healthcare community.”