Inciting mass brawls during Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) games may get you suspended indefinitely from from the league, but it also seemingly makes you a sought after commodity for MMA promotions in the Russian Federation. This is the case for controversial defensemen Damir Ryspayev, who is currently considering an offer from Fight Nights Global.
Ryspayev, 22, is serving a lifetime ban following a pre-season game in Kazan that saw the defensemen singlehandedly attack the entire opposing team. Once he was satisfied with the chaos caused on the ice, he proceeded to the team bench to fight the rest of the squad. This forced the officials to put a stop to the match just three minutes into the proceedings.
"Ryspayev's behaviour has nothing to do with hockey and contradicts not only the rules, but also the spirit of our game,” the KHL stated following the match. “Such actions should not be the case not only in matches involving clubs in the KHL, but also in sports in general."
Prior to his last stand in Kazan, Ryspayev earned 83 penalty minutes in seven games during the 2015 season and 194 penalty minutes in 23 KHL games. Yet despite his physical aggression and issues with discipline and authority, MatchTV confirmed that Fight Nights Global has offered the hockey player an MMA contract.
“I think it’s a great chance to bring together hockey and fighting fans,” Fight Nights president Kamil Gadzhiev stated (h/t RT). “He’s a big star in Kazakhstan.”
Gadzhiev, who is also involved in the administrative affairs of another KHL team (Admiral), suggested that possible opponents for Ryspayev would include Admiral enforcer Samvel Mnatsyan, another aggressive player. Both Admiral and Fight Nights Global are owned and funded by the same Dagestani oligarch, Ziyavudin Magomedov.
However, while Fight Nights will likely benefit from the publicity stunt, it appears they have not been able to convince Ryspayev. The suspended hockey player revealed to Kazakh media that he will only attend Fight Nights as a ‘spectator.’