If you are looking for up and coming talent in mixed martial arts there are several emerging hotbeds. America is no doubt the premiere place for MMA prospects. There is better training and more elite prospects from the United States than anywhere else in the world. Brazil has always been a close second. Both of those countries have produced great talent in MMA. The UFC is full of talent from those countries and that trend will continue. However, there are some emerging hotbeds of upcoming MMA talent. The UFC has been very deliberate in places like the U.K., China, Mexico and Latin America to develop talent in the sport. They have openly hoped that the sport of MMA would take off in those locations. They have invested a lot of money to develop talent in those regions. Their belief has been that live events mixed with international versions of the Ultimate Fighter would spark interest in would-be fighters. The UFC has even sponsored fighters to train at premiere gyms in the United States in hopes of boosting talent in foreign markets. There is no denying that there efforts have had some impact. However, oddly enough it seems that the best talent is coming from a region that UFC has not really targeted. Eastern Europe is loaded full of talent. More specifically, Russia. I believe that Russia is the third best country right now in terms of prospects and is really pushing Brazil for the number two spot.
There are several reasons for this. One may be linked the the gritty nature of many of the Russian fighters. Many fighters, especially the Dagestani ones have grown up in harsh conditions. While it certainly would be difficult to scale “toughness” it seems that many of the up and coming Russian fighters are mentally tough. Perhaps we could also give some credit to early MMA pioneers like Ukrainian Igor Vovchanch or Fedor Emelianenko. I would also say that the popularity of combat sambo has helped as well. Combat sambo has proven to be a great base for mixed martial artists. Many of the top Russian prospects have sambo backgrounds. As a result they enter into MMA with a solid all around base.
It seems that UFC is aware of this boom in talent in Eastern Europe and Russia. It hasn’t been that long ago that the UFC had no Russian fighters under contract. Now they seem keen on gobbling up the top Russian prospects. Here are 20 of the best prospects in Russia who are not currently signed with UFC or another major MMA promotion. I have a feeling some of these names we will be seeing sooner rather than later.
2. Bekbulat Magomedov – Featherweight – 13-0
3. Kairat Akhmetov – Flyweight – 20-0
4. Magomed Bibulatov – Bantamweight – 8-0
5. Oleg Borisov – Featherweight – 12-1
6. Ramazan Emeev – Middleweight – 11-3
7.Maxim Grishin – Light Heavyweight – 18-6
8. Anatoly Tokov – Middleweight – 16-1
9. Konstantin Erokhin – Middleweight – 7-1
11. Sergey Khandoxhko – Welterweight – 16-1
12. Ramazan Esenbaev – Lightweight – 7-1
13. Aziz Pharudinov – Lightweight – 13-0
14. Kurban Gadzhiev – Flyweight – 9-0
15. Vladimir Egoyan – Featherweight – 15-3
16. Aigun Akhmedov – Middleweight – 15-2
17. Magomed Mustafaev – Welterweight – 11-1
18. Abubakar Nurmagomedov – Welterweight – 8-1
19. Eduard Vartanyan – Welterweight – 7-1
20. Alexey Butorin – Light Heavyweight – 8-0