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.
- Russian WMMA pioneer Julia Berezikova has joined a patriotic group aimed at protecting Russia from pro-democracy protesters. The aim is to defend Russia against those who "threaten its constitution."
- Disturbing details have emerged in the Alexander Emelianenko sexual assault case, including abuse, withholding a passport, and forced consumption of narcotics. Read about it here.
- Mairbek Taisumov has signed a new five-fight contract with the UFC. He is 3-1 with the promotion and riding a two-fight win streak that includes a recent KO victory over Anthony Christodoulou.
- Top Russian middleweight talent and M-1 185-pound title-holder Vyacheslav Vasilevsky took part in a lengthy interview where he discussed a variety of interesting topics. The Zelenogorsk-native mentioned that he was interested in signing with the UFC after his contract with M-1 expires, and that he may even drop down to welterweight. He mentioned particular interest in match-up against Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold, and the division's champion Chris Weidman. (Translation via MMAOpinion's Charles Johannes.)
- M-1 Global has released the beta (web-only) version of their subscription service. The platform is expected to host the entire 17-year history of the promotion, including all the fights that took place under the banner.
- M-1 Global will kick off their 2015 season with their first event in Georgia in tribute to their fallen former heavyweight champion Guram Gugenishvili. M-1 Challenge 55 will feature a heavyweight main event between Denis Smoldarev and Maro Perak. The co-main event is also a heavyweight contest between former champion Kenny Garner and Aslambek Musaev.
- Absolute Championship Berkut released the line-up for their first Grand Prix tournament event on February 21st. The event is scheduled to take place at Arena Coliseum in Grozny, Russia.
Check out the full line-up here:
Isa Umarov vs. Vasily Babich
Alex Coruja vs. S. Rasulov
Lew Polley vs. Jacek Czajczyński
Zaur Hajibabayev vs. Zaurbek Bashaev
Mukhomad Vakhaev vs. Vitaliy Kiselov
Michał Fijałka vs. G. Kukhalashvili
Magomed Ginazov vs. Ilfat Amirov
M. Zeinulabidov vs. Antun Račić
Murad Kalamov vs. Filip Macek
Josenaldo Silva vs. Petr Yan
Husein Kushagov vs. Nills van Noord
- MMA promotion Fight Nights is set to begin a new tournament-style show that will feature eight different Russian fight camps. The announced camps are Baltic Challenge, Sambo Peter, Fortress, Fighter, Ratiborets, Relight, MMA Academy and Kostroma.
Russian Fighters to Watch This Month
Rustam Khabilov is scheduled to take part in his fifth octagon outing on February 22 at UFC Fight Night: Bigfoot vs. Mir in Brazil. After going 3-0 to start his tenure with the promotion, Khabilov suffered his first UFC loss to former lightweight champion Benson Henderson. He will now look to rebound back into the win column with a victory over Adriano Martins.
BE's Scouted Prospects
This month, BE's Zane Simon and Tom Grant released their EXTRAs that did not make the Top 10 scouted prospects in the featherweight division. Several of them were Russian natives.
February 21: M-1 Challenge 55 - Smoldarev vs. Perak
February 21: Union MMA Pro - Volkov vs. Kudin
February 28: Absolute Championship Berkut 14 - Grand Prix 2015
February 28: Octagon Fighting Sensation 3 - Monson vs. Stolyarov
Violence in Video
Since Rustam Khabilov is scheduled to compete this month, the UFC has released his most recent fight against Benson Henderson for your viewing pleasure.
For those who speak Russian, here is a new Fedor Emelianenko interview.
Notable talent Shamil Zavurov (25-3) is riding a four-fight win streak. Or is he? The welterweight lost to Yaroslav Amosov last summer via guillotine choke, but never saw the blemish on his record since promoters decided to refer to the fight as a pro-sambo contest and not an MMA bout. Do you agree?
Milana Dudieva is scheduled to face Julianna Pena in April. Check out this slick promo on the Ossetia-native.
Check out M-1 middleweight champion Vyacheslav Vasilevsky’s recent seminar in Moscow.