When you think of Russia, you think vodka, you think vast, you think Sambo, you think of the fearsome Russian bear that stalks through the forests of the Motherland. All in all, you paint a tough picture of the Kremlin in your head, and Fedor Emelianenko fits perfectly in that picture. Fedor Emelianenko is considered by many to be one of the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighters of all time. By the end of his twelve-year career, the former heavyweight champion and 2004 Grand Prix champion of Pride had an impressive record of 35-4-1. Fedor comes from the hard-hitting nation of Russia, where he lived tough as kid and learned much, to take himself as far he could go in the MMA world.
Well, Fedor isn’t the only fighter that Mother Russia has produced; there are many other notable names that have come from the nation. The country itself is known for being a tough fighting nation and has never failed to produce talented fighters. And with the recent influx of fighters from that part of the globe, it looks like the MMA world and especially UFC are in for a Russian revolution. Fighters from there have time and again proven themselves capable and feared by most fighters in the ring.
Previously, apart from a certain few, Russian fighters hadn’t made much of an impact in MMA when compared to fighters from other nations. The UFC itself, still haven’t had their first Russian champion. However, all this looks set to change in the coming years. This year, we have seen a steady rise in Russian fighters in the UFC, with Dana White signing even more fighters from that nation and so far all have put in impressive bouts for the spectators and for the UFC. Here’s a look at some of the best Russian fighters we have seen this year.
Bagautinov’s MMA career is off to a flying start with a current record of 13-3-0 and what’s even more impressive is that he has never been knocked out. The former Sambo world champion made his mixed martial arts debut in the December of 2009 and two years later he signed with the premier mixed martial arts organization. His UFC debut which was at UFC Fight Night 28 has been one of his most memorable fights till now, where he put Marcos Vinicius to sleep with a vicious TKO win in the third round. Bagautinov looks fit and hungry, with more impressive performances following his debut. If he continues this way, it looks like he’s here to stay and make a name for himself.
Another notable Russian is Adlan Amagov whose overall record stands at 13-2-1 in his MMA career and has 2 wins with no losses, since joining with the UFC. Amagov has fought at light-heavyweight, middleweight and is now fighting in the welterweight division. Even at light heavyweight, where he was clearly undersized for his opponents, he put up a good show and was successful, in collecting an incredible 8-1 record at 205lbs division. However, since dropping to welterweight ‘The Wolf’ has looked unbeatable and is riding a three fight win high, the last two coming from bouts in the UFC. During his debut, He ruled over Chris Spang in their fight and followed that up with a vicious K.O over T.J Waldburger at his next fight at UFC 166. Amagov hasn’t yet got a fight booked since then, but that could just be because no one’s ready to face him yet.
Rustam Khabilov is another beast from the motherland and is 17-2-0 in his career so far. The ‘Tiger’ was on a five-fight winning streak, with three of those in the UFC’s lightweight division, until his last fight where he was defeated by Benson Henderson. Nevertheless, Khabilov is an established fighter who still has a lot more to show. At The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale which was also his UFC debut, the former Sambo champion annihilated Vinc Pichel with brutal suplexes, the final one knocking out Pichel. His next victim was Yancy Medeiros whom he again slammed to a TKO win. His last win was without question Khabilov’s most stellar performance, a fight of the night war with Jorge Masvidal. He showed an inspiring striking game against Masvidal who is a top-level striker. His last fight, which he lost to Benson Henderson, may have slowed things down a little for him, but it’s probably gotten him more focused to do better.
Having one of the most impressive winning streaks in his MMA career Khabib Nurmagomedov is undoubtedly the biggest Russian prospect on UFC’s Roster. As with most people in Russia, he started with Sambo and is a multiple world Sambo champion. But what really caught everyone’s attention is when he stepped into the caged ring. It turned out to be his natural habitat, and has been unbeaten in it till this date, garnering a mountainous 22-0-0 record. The 25-year-old Russian has shown that he is a well-rounded fighter, taking wins from strikes, grapples and takedowns. He holds the most number of takedowns in a UFC fight when he slammed Abel Trujilo to the mat, 21 times during the bout. His stamina is also commendable, allowing him to go on for 3 rounds with ease. The Eagle’s UFC debut came in January last year where he submitted Kamal Shalorus in the third round. Since then the Russian has won another five fights, making him 6-0 in the UFC and has established himself as the most impressive Russian amongst the current crop of fighters.Published 27 Aug 2014, 17:57 IST