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UFC 166 - Waldburger v Amagov

Whatever happened to Adlan Amagov?

Karim Zidan delves into the short-lived career of the UFC’s original Chechen standout.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It was 2009 when a young Chechen named Adlan Amagov landed one of the most vicious kicks in mixed martial arts history.

It happened at a Dec. 19 ProFC event in a small, dim lit arena in Rostov-on-Don, a port city in Southern Russia. Amagov—just 23 years old at the time—walked up to his opponent and sized him up before casually issuing a spinning hook kick that landed with such perfect precision that it sent his victim face-first into the canvas. It was a pivotal moment in Amagov’s career and set the stage for the Chechen fighter’s future exploits.

Amagov would go on to amass a 14-2-1 professional record over the course of his nine-year career, which included successful runs in Strikeforce and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). However, despite his talent and projected title contention, Amagov’s career came to a sudden and abrupt end in 2013. Since then, the Chechen fighter has shunned the limelight, leading to rumors and questions about his whereabouts and post-career exploits, including reports that he was involved in criminal activity in Russia.

Amagov made his professional debut in November 2007, losing to future UFC heavyweight Alexey Oleynik by Ezekiel choke. Determined to overcome his setback, Amagov began training with legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and won seven of his next eight fights. His fiery style and dominant performances caught the attention of manager Sam Kardan, who was in the process of forming the Red Fury Fight Team, which included the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, Ruslan Magomedov, Vyacheslav Vasilevskiy and Alexei Kudin.

Kardan’s plan was to gather the top fighters in Russia and offer them opportunities to fight in the United States. He helped place Amagov on the Strikeforce roster in 2011, while Nurmagomedov went on to join the UFC.

Amagov quickly compiled a 2-0 record in his first year with Strikeforce, including a KO win against current UFC standout Anthony Smith. However, his winning streak came to an end several months later when he was knocked out by future UFC champion Robbie Lawler. The loss would be the final defeat of Amagov’s career. He rebounded eight months later with a technical knockout win against Keith Berry, which landed him in the UFC.

Amagov made his UFC debut against Chris Spång in April 2013. It was his first fight at welterweight and ended in a unanimous decision victory. He returned six months later with an emphatic KO win against TJ Waldburger at UFC 166—a win that set Amagov on a path towards title contention. He was set to challenge Jason High at UFC Fight Night 35 but pulled out due to an injury. Reports began to circulate that Amagov was dealing with undisclosed issues, which lead to rumors that the fighter planned to retire due to religious reasons.

UFC 166 - Waldburger v Amagov Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

By 2015—following a year of speculation—Amagov officially announced his retirement from the sport, explaining that he was tired of cutting weight and wanted to spend time with his children.

“I just decided to stop,” Amagov said at the time. “The decision came spontaneously. I was lying on the bed thinking about what to do next.”

As is the case with many retirements in MMA, Amagov’s decision did not stick. He made his return at Russia’s annual S-70 combat sports event in 2016, where he defeated Dirlei Broenstrup by armlock in a mixed rules Sambo bout. He then won a National Guard hand-to-hand combat championship event in January 2017, defeating former ACB heavyweight champion Salimgerey Rasulov in the final. This marked the last fight in Amagov’s professional career. And while he would no longer make headlines for his fighting feats, he would soon make headlines for his alleged criminal undertakings.

On June 7, 2017, Amagov was allegedly involved in a shootout in Moscow between two opposing Chechen clans, the Khalidovs and the Baysurovs. Amagov reportedly hospitalized 19-year-old Timur Baysurov, a fellow MMA fighter, with a stab wound to the chest. The teenager was taken to an intensive care unit and treated for his injuries. Five others were injured in the shootout, while two were killed in the fighting.

The incident took place after the two clans met at Krylatsky Hills in Moscow to redistribute a shared business. The talks were led by Magomed Khalidov, the owner of the ‘Grand’ and ‘Three Pillars’ furniture centers and Ruslan Baysurov, the CEO of Intro Energy. When the two groups were unable to reach an agreement, tension rose and the clans decided to settle their differences using guns and knives.

While local law enforcement launched an investigation into the fatal incident, no arrests were made given that neither side was willing to cooperate with the authorities.

Amagov continued to make rare appearances throughout Russia, including a 2018 visit to the Orenburg Presidential Cadet School, where he held a boxing and MMA master class for members of the Russian Guard.

UFC 166 - Waldburger v Amagov Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It would take another three years for Amagov’s name to resurface again, this time in as a guest on a Russian MMA podcast called Hustle MMA. Amagov took part on the Dec. 28 edition of the show, where he discussed his MMA career, his decision to retire from the sport, his experience in the United States, and the state of Russian MMA and some of its most notable figures such as Petr Yan and Khamzat Chimaev. He even retold the story of the time when he knocked down former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones in training.

“It was during sparring. I caught him as he was coming in with a straight right,” Amagov said. “I hit him with a roundhouse kick to the liver and it dropped him. It happened like that.”

“I haven’t been in touch with [Jon Jones] for a long time. I have retired from Instagram, so I no longer keep in touch with him,” Amagov said on the podcast. “As for how I knocked him out, it was in sparring. Such things are uncomfortable to say when sparring. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone at all. Then Jones himself gave an interview and was asked about it During sparring, I hit him with a roundhouse kick to the liver and it dropped him. It happens.

“He himself is a good guy, he just gets carried away sometimes,” Amagov added.

Once considered the most ferocious Chechen in the UFC, Amagov has resigned himself to a calm, reserved life away from prying eyes. His retirement is among MMA’s great “what if?” moments, leaving plenty of unanswered questions about Amagov’s unfulfilled potential and what could have been.

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