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Russia Roundup: UFC aims for Russia event in 2016, M-1 to introduce Knight Fighting League

BloodyElbow’s Karim Zidan rounds up the latest news, updates, and videos from across the world in Russia and the Caucasus.

Anton Tabuena

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 is the latest news, signings, or prospect talk, this is the place to read up on the Russian MMA.

Latest Roundup

  • After announcing a significant television broadcast deal for their programming in Russia, many assumed that it was a forgone conclusion that the UFC would hold an event in Russia in the near future. However, according to the promotion's General Manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa David Allen, the UFC is "looking at 2016 and anywhere from Moscow to St. Petersburg, or even in Sochi." He also added in his interview with BloodyElbow's Mark Bergmann last month that the promotion was a "long way from securing or announcing anything around that."
  • Fedor Emelianenko is back in the United States for the first time since his four-fight Strikeforce run several years ago. While in New York, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion conducted several interviews and gave some revealing quotes in the process. Fedor delved into the infamous island meeting and blamed UFC President Dana White for the failed UFC negotiations back in 2009.
  • M-1 Global has decided to launch the ‘M-1 Medieval' project, which is an offshoot of M-1 that will feature professional fights between armored knights. According to M-1 officials, the sport will entail two fighters who "wear armor of medieval warriors and use replicas of ancient swords with blunt razor to fight each other." The official date for the start of the project is yet to be revealed.
  • Along with the introduction of ‘M-1 Medieval,' it appears as though some of Russia's top MMA gyms like the Alexander Nevsky Fight Club plan to incorporate fencing elements into the training regimens of their fighters. While it remains unclear whether M-1 Global's professional fighters will also have the opportunity to fence at their events instead, it is certainly an option that will soon be offered to them in the gym.

Regional News

  • Akhmat MMA - Grozny Fights, a new MMA promotion set to debut in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, has scheduled their first event for March 14, and will feature an array of notable talent from the region. Amongst those expected to compete on the card include BE's No. 4 welterweight prospect Khusein Khaliev, Magomed Bibulatov, BE's No. 6 light-heavyweight prospect Abdul-Kerim Edilov, and Shamil Zavurov.
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s younger brother Abubakar moved to 9-1 in his professional career following a second round submission victory in the co-main event of Fight Star: Battle on Sura 3. While many would be interested to see him try his luck on North American soil, it appears Abubakar is keen to hone his skills in Russia for the remainder of 2015 before venturing to the United States.
  • The Absolute Championship Berkut 15: Grand Prix Berkut 2015 Stage 2 event will take place on Saturday, March 21 in Nalchik, Russia. The card, which is filled with talented prospects, will includes the likes of M-1 talent Anatoly Tokov, undefeated lightweight Mukhamed Kokov, Abdul-Rakhman Temirov, and Eduard Vartanyan.

Russian Fighters in UFC News

  • Undefeated Dagestani lightweight Islam Makhachev is finally set to make his UFC debut after being signed to the promotion back in October 2014. Makhachev trains alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov, and under the tutelage of Khabib's father, Abdulmanap. With an 11-0 record, Makhachev is one of the bright young stars from the region, and be held to high expectations when he makes his UFC debut against Leo Kuntz. Read about Makhachev in Zane Simon's 'Welcome' piece, as well as Patrick Wyman's list of future champions.
  • Another Russian competitor scheduled to make their long-awaited UFC debut is strawweight Aleksandra Albu, who is set to meet Poland's Izabela Badurek at UFC: Krakow. Originally scheduled to make her debut against Julie Kedzie in 2013, the 1-0 fighter was forced on the sidelines with an injury, and will now finally make her promotional debut.

Russian MMA in Tweets

Can't forget the entertainment

And sometimes the entertainment comes in the form of impromptu songs from a fighter’s father

Sometimes the entertainment comes from the mother

No, really…

Blast from the past

Scheduled Events in February

February 28: Absolute Championship Berkut 14 - Grand Prix 2015 Stage 1

February 28: Octagon Fighting Sensation 3 - Monson vs. Stolyarov

Violence in Video

Two weekends ago, a disturbing scene took place at an OPLOT qualifying tournament in Russia, where a fighter was ferociously knocked out and began seizing up for the better part of the next six minutes. Apart from the harrowing scene inside the cage, the incompetence of the staff present at the event was astonishing to behold.

The entire sequence of events lasted well over six minutes and can be viewed in its entirety above. (Begins at 56:20.)

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UFC veteran Jeff Monson donated his entire fight purse last Saturday to the children of war-torn Donbass. Watch the video below.

"The money that I received tonight from my fight is all going to Donbas. We had an agreement, I made no money tonight. If you guys could support the people, these are people who love Russia, who need your support. Children that are victims of the fight, they need our help, and so I'm donating my money, please help out as much as you can"

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Watch Bellator heavyweight Alexander Volkov’s most recent fight against Alexei Kudin.

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Earlier this month, Vinny Magalhaes met Jackson Sousa in a BJJ match at the Grozny City Berkut Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship.

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