UFC fighter Siyar Bahadurzada (red trunks) vs. Carlos Alexandre Pereira in Brazil. Photo by Marcelo Alonso for Sherdog.
This past weekend's UFC on Fuel TV 2 event saw a lot of young names establish themselves as players to watch in the future. Alexander Gustafsson showed he's ready for the big stage, John Maguire turned heads, Brad Pickett made his claim as a future title challenger. But one man stood out above them all - Siyar Bahadurzada.
Often known as Siyar the Killer, Bahadurzada stepped into the cage a relative unknown, with only die hard fans and those who closely follow the European scene knowing much about him. 42 seconds later, Paulo Thiago lay unconscious on the mat, and suddenly, every UFC fan wanted to know more about the man who had laid him out. So who exactly is Siyar Bahadurzada? And what kind of impact will he have on the UFC Welterweight division? Let's take a look.
Bahadurzada is already a 10 year veteran of the sport despite being only 27 years old. Born in Afghanistan, Siyar moved to the Netherlands in his teens. There, he began training MMA, eventually joining up with the famed Golden Glory gym, where he still trains today. He spent his early career fighting primarily in Holland for the Shooto Holland organization, where he competed as a Light Heavyweight, eventually winning the Shooto Light Heavyweight title in 2007 (a belt he never lost).
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Internationally, Siyar's big break came in 2008 when he was invited to fight on the inaugural Sengoku event in Japan. Interestingly, Siyar would fight as a Middleweight for the first time at Sengoku, and he would be taking on Pride Grand Prix champion Kazuo Misaki - a man groomed for stardom in Sengoku. Siyar gave Misaki a tough fight, but ultimately lost via guillotine in round 2. He stayed at Middleweight, entering the Sengoku MW Grand Prix where he defeated Cyborg Santos in the first round, then lost to eventual champion Jorge Santiago in the semi-finals. Since that 2008 loss to Santiago, Siyar has not been defeated, putting together a now 7 fight win streak.
More on Siyar Bahadurzada, including fight videos, in the full entry
In 2010, he dropped down to Welterweight, taking part in the United Glory World Series of MMA tournament put together by his gym Golden Glory. He won that tournament, including a defeat over UFC 145 fighter John Alessio.
In 2011, Siyar was announced as signing with Strikeforce, but various contract and visa issues prevented him from ever fighting there. He signed with the UFC in late 2011, was set to face Erick Silva at UFC 142, but was injured and pushed his debut back to the Fuel show.
Overall, Bahadurzada has put together a 21-4-1 record. He's a perfect 4-0 at Welterweight, and has only lost twice (to Misaki and Santiago) since 2004.
Stylistically, what we saw against Thiago was Siyar in his ideal form. He's a boxer primarily, who swings hard, fast, and heavy. He has a tremendous amount of KO wins, typically from his hands. As we saw, he has big power, and is one of those fighters capable of ending the fight very quickly. He also loves playing to that style. Despite training at Golden Glory (known primarily for their kickboxing), he is not a purely technical striker. He loves to swing and brawl, with the wide right hook or overhand right as his favorite weapon. That style will surely win him fans in the UFC - don't expect this weekend's bonus to be his last.
Of course, with that style comes some disadvantages. He does keep his chin a bit too exposed, and can get hit. But he has a tough chin that allows him to push through, fire back, and get the KO himself.
So is Siyar the future of the Welterweight division? Hard to say. To know that for sure, there are three questions he'll have to answer:
- How is his cardio? Because he's a fast starter, he's rarely gone the distance - only once in the last 5 years. How will he respond when pushed into deep waters?
- Has he improved his ground game? That's the biggest hole in his game, and it's the one that cost him against Santiago and Misaki. Since those loses, he hasn't been truly challenged on the ground. In the wrestler-heavy UFC Welterweight division, he'll need to be ready for the ground.
- Is his Visa issue cleared up? This sounds like a weird question, but it has to be asked. Siyar has never once fought in the US, and Scott Coker blamed Visa issues for the trouble getting Siyar fights for Strikeforce. Let's hope this is not an issue, as it would severely limit his UFC availability.
Overall, there's good reason to be excited for Siyar Bahadurzada to be in the UFC. He's already showed just what he is capable of. And while there are still questions out there, he's the kind of fighter who makes you eager to learn the answers.
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Carlos Alexandre Pereira
August 6, 2010 - Shooto Light Heavyweight title fight in Brazil
Siyar Bahardurzada vs. John Alessio
March 19, 2011 - United Glory Welterweight tournament semi-final