2013: The Year the Russians Came

2013 was the year where it became impossible not notice the huge influx of Russians in BOTH the UFC and Bellator.

But how exactly did they fare overall? The Answer: Really, really well

Russians in the UFC

Overall Record for 2013: 10-0 (5 knockouts)

Khabib Nurmagomedov (3-0): wins over Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo, and Thiago Tavares

Rustam Khabilov (2-0): wins over Jorge Masvidal and Yancy Medeiros

Ali Bagautinov (2-0): wins over Tim Elliott and Marcus Vinicius

Adlan Amagov (2-0): wins over TJ Waldburger and Chris Spang

Omari Akhmedov (1-0): win over Thiago Perpetuo

Russians in Bellator

Overall Record for 2013: 17-9 (8 knockouts, 6 submissions)

Alexander Shlemenko (3-0): wins over Doug Marshall, Brett Cooper, and Maiquel Falcao

Alexander Sarnavskiy (3-1): wins over Ricardo Tirloni, Marcus Davis, and Thiago Michel, loss to Will Brooks

Mikhail Zayats (3-1): wins over Babalu Sobral, Jacob Noe, and Aaron Rosa, loss to Emanuel Newton

Vitaly Minakov (2-0): wins over Ryan Martinez and Ron Sparks (plus Alexander Volkov, which I didn't count since it was Russian vs. Russian)

Frodo Khasbulaev (3-0): wins over Mike Richman, Marlon Sandro, and Fabricio Guerreiro

Andrey Koreshkov (0-1): loss to Ben Askren

Shahbulat Shamhalaev (1-1): win over Rad Martinez, loss to Pat Curran

Sultan Aliev (1-1): win over Mikkel Parlo, loss to Doug Marshall

Akop Stepanyan (1-3): win over Chris Saunders, losses to Justin Wilcox, Mike Richman, and Marlon Sandro

Michail Tsarev (0-1): loss to Douglas Lima


Why the Difference?

So, while it's a solid Bellator record, why the discrepancy between UFC's undefeated record and Bellator's merely really good record for 2013?

Well, there's a few things:

1. Bellator is obviously casting a pretty wide net here. They've got more Russians from different areas and at different levels.

2. Speaking of that, it's hard not to notice that ALL the Russians who fought in the UFC last year were Dagestani or fighting out of Dagestan. The three Dagestani fighters who fought in Bellator last year went 5-2, with Frodo Khasbulaev destroying his way to a tournament title. And in fairness, that record should really be 6-1 due to judging tomfoolery in Sultan Aliev's fight with Doug Marshall, but more on that later.

3. Three of Bellator's very best Russian fighters were pretty inactive last year: Volkov and Koreshkov only had one fight each, while Shamhalaev only had two. Meanwhile, Stepanyan and Sarnavskiy fought 4 times and just about everybody else fougth 3 times.

4. There are two absolute bullshit decisions worth mentioning here: Stepanyan absolutely beat Marlon Sandro and should've moved on in that tournament. Sultan Aliev was also completely ripped off against Doug Marshall in a decision that I still find completely and utterly baffling. It was, without a doubt, one of the worst decisions of the year. Both of these awful decisions knocked Stepanyan and Aliev out of tournaments.

5. In the Bellator context, they fought bigger fights: we had three Russian title fights and there's no shame in losing to guys like Ben Askren and Pat Curran (Koreshkov and Shamhalaev went on absolute tears to get to those title shots).

......but yeah, how about that Dagestan? And seriously, the Russians went UNDEFEATED in the UFC last year over ten fights. Unreal.


So what's in store for 2014?

I have no idea what's going on in Bellator outside of the impending Minakov/Kongo title fight, but the UFC has gone on a Russian signing bonanza. The result is that I highly, highly doubt we're going to see another undefeated year for the Russians. Like Bellator, they've basically widened the net, which means they've gone outside of Dagestan and are also signing fighters of differing levels.

In 2014, we should see the UFC debuts of:

Women's 135: Alexandra Albu

Featherweight: Zubaira Tukhugov

Lightweight: Rashid Magomedov, Mairbek Taisumov

Welterweight: Adam Khaliev, Albert Tumenov, Gasan Umalatov

Heavyweight: Alexey Oleinik

Out of these guys, I'm excited about Magomedov and Taisumov. I'm not sure what to think of Oleinik, particularly at this late stage of his career, but I think he can hang out in the mid-level to lower-level rungs of a thin division. I think Albu and Khaliev are likely to be busts, especially Albu. And I know nothing about Tukhugov, Tumenov, or Umalatov but a quick look at their records suggests that Albert Tumenov is the one to watch out of the three (he headkick ko'd a very solid Yasubey Enomoto back in October and is 12-1 overall and only 22 years old).

Tukhugov will be debuting against Thiago Tavares, Magomedov will be debuting against fellow debutante Tony Martin, Taisumov will be getting fellow debutante Tae Hyun Bang, Oleinik will be debuting opposite Jared Rosholt, Khaliev will be getting Pascal Krauss, Tumenov will be getting Ildemar Alcantara, and Umalatov will be debuting against Neil Magny. Albu has not been booked for another fight since pulling out of her fight against Julie Kedzie.

At a glance, I'd say that Magomedov and Taisumov got the easiest fights, Tumenov and Umalatov got winnable fights, while Tukhugov, Khaliev, and Oleinik got tough draws.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.