The proliferation of Russian MMA over the past few years has become impossible to deny. There are approximately 30 fighters on the UFC roster of Russian origin and that number is gradually rising with each passing month. With an endless array of prospects in Russia, as well as the North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Dagestan, it can get difficult trying to keep up with the regional scene and notable happenings from that side of the world.
Therefore, we would like to introduce you to the ‘Russia Roundup,' a bi-weekly series of articles that will serve as your multimedia guide to staying up-to-date with the Russian MMA scene. Whether it be the latest news, signings, or prospect talk, this is the place to read up on the Russian MMA.
- As reported on BloodyElbow.com several weeks ago, Fedor Emelianenko has declined Scott Coker's offer to fight for Bellator. The CEO confirmed the news on The MMA Hour last Tuesday.
- The UFC officially announced a television broadcast deal in Russia. This will likely be the first step towards their eventual debut in the region. With the growing list of Russian/Caucasus fighters on their roster, it is an inevitable move for the promotion.
- Undefeated welterweight prospect Adam Khaliev (6-0) is rumoured to have an opponent lined up for him in the next few months. The Chechen native was originally signed with the promotion back in October 2013 and was scheduled to debut against Pascal Krauss. However, both competitors withdrew for unknown reasons.
- While it was believed that he is en route to the UFC, BloodyElbow has learned that the top lightweight prospect Musa Khamanaev is yet take part in any negotiations with the promotion. He also has no scheduled fight in Russia at this time.
- Bellator's heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov denied rumours that he had retired from MMA competition. The undefeated Muscovite, who holds wins over Alexander Volkov and Cheick Kongo, was featured in a short interview while training at the Fight Nights gym, where he clearly stated that he had not retired.
- M-1 Global has announced the main event for their M-1 Challenge 55 card in February. The headlining fight will feature Denis Smoldarev (9-1) vs. Maro Perak (23-4-1). Other fights on the card include Kenny Garner vs Aslambek Musaev, BE scouted prospect Pavel Vitruk vs. Germany's Max Coga and Luigi Fioravanti vs Nodar Kuduxashvili.
- The promotion also released their entire fight schedule for 2015, and informed BloodyElbow that they plan to start a subscription service similar to Fight Pass.
- Dagestan prospect Shamil Zavurov is scheduled to compete on the third Octagon Fighting Sensation fight card next month. His only losses are to UFC standout Rashid Magomedov and Yasubey Enomoto. UFC veteran Jeff Monson is also expected to compete on the card.
- Union MMA Pro will feature main event between Alexander Volkov and Alexi Kudin, as well as a pair of intriguing prospect match-ups in Arthur Astakhov vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov and Victor Nemkov vs Vagab Vagabov.
Russian Fighters to Watch This Month
- Konstantin Erokhin may just be the most intriguing UFC heavyweight signing in recent memory. The Muscovite is considered to be a top prospect in MMA and a much-needed addition to the shallow pond that is the UFC's heavyweight division. The 32-year-old holds wins over Sokoudjou, Brett Rogers and Polish prospect Michal Andryszak and will now look to extend his nine-fight win streak in the octagon.
- Albert Tumenov will take part in the feature prelim in Sweden, where he will face Nico Musoke. The 23-year-old, who fights out of K-Dojo in New Jersey, is on a two-fight win streak, both finishes by KO.
- Mairbek Taisumov (22-5) will contest his fourth fight in the UFC against Anthony Christodoulou in Stockholm, Sweden. The Grozny, Chechnya native is coming off a 61-second TKO victory over Marcin Bandel and will look to string together consecutive victories for the first time in his UFC run.
- Sultan Aliev (13-1) will make his UFC debut in Stockholm against Kenny Robertson. The Dagestan native is coming off a four-fight win streak with his only setback being a split decision loss to Doug Marshall at Bellator 92.
- Beslan Isaev is featured in the main event of ACB 13 on January 31st. One of the shining beacons of the Fight Club Berkut team in Chechnya, Isaev is coming off a KO victory over Cody McKenzie at M-1 Challenge 54/ACB 12.
- Shamil Abdurahimov has signed with the UFC, four years after being named BloodyElbow's No. 2 scouted prospect back in 2011. The 33-year-old heavyweight has compiled a 15-2 professional record and holds wins over the likes of Jeff Monson, Kenny Garner and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. His most recent fight took place at M-1 Challenge 49, where he defeated Garner via decision.
Check out Zane Simon's detailed piece on Abdurahimov here.
BE's Scouted Prospects
This month, BE's Zane Simon and Tom Grant released their Top 10 scouted prospects in the featherweight division. As expected, several of them were Russian natives.
No. 7 - Khusein Askhabov
No. 9 - Alexander Matmuratov
No. 10 - Anzor Azhiev
January 31 - Absolute Championship Berkut 13 in Plock, Poland.
Violence in Video
Do you miss Adlan Amagov? You will in a moment.
Check out RTR’s first advertisement for the UFC on Russian television.
While we are on the subject of Taisumov, here is a mini documentary about his troubled past.
Here is another documentary, although only in Russian, loosely translated to ‘Anatomy of the battlefield.’ For those who understand the language, it features interviews and footage with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Vadim Finkelchtein.
What to know M-1 Global’s entire 2015 schedule? Here it is all neatly put into one quick video.