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Askar Askarov returns to MMA with Absolute Championship Akhmat

The former flyweight top contender announced he was stepping away from competition back in October of last year and was granted his release from the UFC.

Askar Askarov poses with his team following his victory over Joe Benavidez at UFC 259.
Askar Askarov poses with his team following his victory over Joe Benavidez at UFC 259.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Askar Askarov’s exit from the UFC could hardly have seemed more sudden. Unbeaten over the first eight years of his career, Askarov suffered his first real setback against Kai Kara France back in March of 2022, losing a unanimous decision to the hard-punching New Zealander.

Still just 30-years-old and with name wins over contenders like Alexandre Pantoja and Joe Benavidez (plus a split draw against current champ Brandon Moreno), even in defeat Askarov seemed primed to contend for UFC gold in the not too distant future. A few months later, however, and the wrestling champion from Dagestan was gone.

“Due to the fact that my return was delayed for health reasons, and it was my last fight under contract (with Brandon Royal), I asked the UFC to release me, to which I received a positive response,” Askarov wrote in a social media post last October. “First, we will put our health in order, then we will see what and how.”

Whatever putting his health in order might have involved, it seems to have happened relatively quickly. In a post to their Instagram account, Chechen MMA organization Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) announced that Askarov has signed a contract to compete under the ACA banner.

Formerly Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB)—until regional dictator Ramzan Kadyrov announced that ACB would merge with his own World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA) organization in 2018—Askarov previously competed for the promotion from 2015 to 2018. While there, ‘Bullet’ picked up the ACB flyweight title, defending it twice before making the jump to the UFC.

No word yet on exactly when Askarov expects to take his first fight back in his old stomping grounds, but it seems likely that a fight announcement will be coming in the following weeks.

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