This Week in Russian MMA: Preview and Predictions
This week, four of Russia’s biggest promotions will all hold events during which a total of five belts will be on the line. Let’s take a closer look at the action.
MMA fans in Moscow, Russia will be spoiled for choice as both Fight Nights Global and M-1 Global kick off the action-packed week with simultaneous events in the capital of Russia on Thursday. In the main event of FNG 83, Magomedsaygid Alibekov is scheduled to defend his Lightweight belt against Akhmet Aliev. Whilst the inaugural Women’s Bantamweight title fight between Marina Mokhnatkina and Liana Jojua will serve as the co-main event. Meanwhile, M-1 Challenge 88 will be headlined by a rematch between Lightweight champion Damir Ismagulov and Raul Tutarauli. Moreover, Bantamweight champion Movsar Evloev will face off with Sergey Morozov.
The action continues on Friday as another of Russia’s top MMA promotion, Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) makes it’s Middle Eastern debut in Dubai, UAE. In the main event, Roan Carneiro will be looking to earn a win in his first fight since leaving the UFC when he faces KSW and ACB veteran Aslambek Saidov. On Saturday, WFCA will close out the week with its 45th event in native Grozny, Russia. The vacant Light-Heavyweight belt will be on the line as Maxim Grishin squares off against UFC-veteran Leonardo Guimaraes.
Magomedsaygid Alibekov vs. Akhmed Aliev
Alibekov will be looking to defend his title for the second time whilst Aliev is on a six-fight win streak which includes wins over notables Efrain Escudero and Diego Brandao. The champion has shown the ability to go five rounds in his last two fights and showed solid skills everywhere the fight took place. He utilizes his kicks well and has a good takedown game from the clinch. Aliev meanwhile is a very good technical striker with great boxing fundamentals as shown in his knockout of Ivan Jorge.
Expect the challenger’s cleaner striking techniques will prove decisive in a tightly-contested fight.
Prediction: Aliev by split decision.
Marina Mokhnatkina vs. Liana Jojua
Russia’s Mokhnatkina is a multiple time world sambo champion and thus posses a pedigree rarely seen in WMMA. So far in her career, Mokhnatkina has won all four of her bouts by submission in the first round. As is typical for sambo practitioners, Mokhnatkina is well-versed in leg locks which makes extremely dangerous even against established jiu-jitsu fighters. Jojua’s base is muay-Thai and she has shown some good skills in the clinch as well kicking from range. Despite this, the majority of her wins come by submission, with the armbar being her preferred move.
Jojua’s willingness to go to ground will likely be her downfall in this fight as Mokhnatkina is several levels above her in that department.
Prediction: Mokhnatkina by first-round submission.
M-1 Challenge 88
Damir Ismagulov vs. Raul Tutarauli
This a rematch from 2016 in which Kazakhstan’s Ismagulov weathered the early storm before taking Tutarauli’s back and finishing him with a barrage of strikes. Since then, both men have won all of their fights and did so in impressive fashion. In their first fight, Tutarauli came out strong with a pressure-heavy gameplan, using looping punches to set up the takedowns. However, due to his aggressive style, Tutarauli noticeably slowed down in the second round. Ismagulov is much more polished on the feet and utilizes a more traditional striking style. On the ground, he is also capable as demonstrated by a number of ground and pound finishes.
This fight will likely resemble their first meeting with Tutarauli starting off strong and Ismagulov gradually imposing his game as the fight goes on. The champion should also benefit from a cardio advantage which will benefit him in the later rounds.
Prediction: Ismagulov by fourth-round T/KO.
Movsar Evloev vs. Sergey Morozov
Russia’ Evloev is coming off a dominating win over Pavel Vitruk in a title-unification fight. In that fight, Evloev demonstrated tremendous wrestling as well great positional grappling. On the feet, Evloev is also skilled with his head kick knockout over Alexei Nevzorov as proof. Morozov is also a very well-rounded fighter who although is a striker, is more than willing to take his opponents down if he believes he has an advantage there.
Evloev should be able to implement the same game as he did against Vitruk. The stand-up exchanges will be competitive, however, Evloev will look to wrestle and assert his dominance on the ground.
Prediction: Evloev by unanimous decision.
Aslambek Saidov vs. Roan Carneiro
This is a very intriguing clash between two veterans of the sport. Saidov is comfortable both on the feet and on the ground. He holds notable wins over Borys Minkowski and TUF: Redemption winner Jesse Taylor. Roan Carneiro is coming off a decision loss to Ryan LaFlare and will be looking to re-enter the win column as well as make a first impression in his ACB debut. Carneiro is primarily a ground fighter with solid submission skills but he can also hold his own on the feet.
This fight will be very closely-contested but Saidov’s well-rounded skills should see him through to a decision win.
Prediction: Saidov by unanimous-decision.
Maxim Grishin vs. Leonardo Guimaraes
Russia’s Grishin and Brazil’s Guimaraes will battle it out for the vacant Light-Heavyweight title. Grishin has won 13 out of his last 14 fights, with his only loss coming to the recent UFC signee, Magomed Ankalayev. Grishin is a skilled striker who possesses solid fundamentals and footwork. Since leaving the UFC, Guimaraes has gone 1-2 on the Brazilian regional circuit and decided to move up to Light Heavyweight. Guimaraes is not very technical on the feet and prefers to swing heavy shots, on the ground Guimaraes is solid but not amazing.
Grishin should be able to win this fight fairly handily by picking off Guimaraes standing up and defending any takedowns that come his way.
Prediction: Grishin by third-round T/KO.