Photo Credit: @kunchenkoaa on Instagram

Top Russian Welterweight Alexey Kunchenko Joins UFC, Faces Thiago Alves in Moscow

According to Canal Combate, the UFC has just completed a big acquisition from the Russian market, bringing in M-1 Global Welterweight Champion Alexey Kunchenko (18-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and immediately scheduling him a fight with Thiago Alves (22-12 MMA, 14-9 UFC). Kunchenko, a 34-year-old Muay Thai practitioner who fights out of Tyumen, Russia, has an undefeated record and currently stands at 18-0.

Tapology ranks Kunchenko as the best welterweight fighting in Russia, and that’s true if his results in M-1 are anything to go off of. He first captured the welterweight belt during April, 2016, and improved his record to 12-0 in the process. He hasn’t let go of the belt since then, regularly defending it. Kunchenko has defended the belt four straight times, in addition to picking up a win at catchweight in the same time span.

Both of his last fights, against Sergey Romanov and Alexander Butenko, weren’t decisions but stoppages. His most recent victory was a stoppage in the third round, while the one before that was a first round stoppage.

Kuchenko will have a tough test entering the UFC, in veteran Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. The Brazilian is coming off of a knockout loss to Curtis Millender, to keep Millender’s winning streak going back in February. Alves will be hoping that Kuchenko isn’t injured and that no unpredictable circumstances arise, as he had two cancelled bouts before the Millender fight. If he can get the victory over the newcomer, it will be his first win since April, 2017.

With 13 of Kuchenko’s 18 wins coming by knockout, fans can expect one side or the other to get the finish here rather than fighting the full 15 minutes. The fight will happen under the backdrop of a large Olympic Stadium crowd, at UFC Moscow in September.

The main event will be headlined by fellow Russian Alexey Olinyk fighting Mark Hunt, and the card also has a scheduled fight between Dagestani welterweight Omari Akhmedov and the experienced C.B. Dollaway. Many other fighters from Russia and the surrounding area will be on the card, such as Poland’s Krysztof Jotko, Andrei Arlovski of Belarus, Dagestan’s Shamil Abdurakhimov, and Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili.

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Amateur journalist and hot take artist. University of Life '22.

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