The UFC Fight Night tournament in Moscow on Saturday was the most unsuccessful for Russian athletes on its territory. If we leave out the confrontation between Rustam Khabilov and Sergey Khandozhko, then in the remaining 11 fights, domestic fighters lost seven times. Only the main stars managed to get the upper hand - Zabit Magomedsharipov and Alexander Volkov, as well as Shamil Gamzatov and Magomed Ankalaev. And this is taking into account the fact that before in the tournaments in the native walls the Russians gained the upper hand in 16 out of 19 fights.
Due to the large number of defeats, opinions appeared on social networks and on the pages of thematic blogs about the presence of systemic errors in the preparation of athletes. So, it was said that the domestic coaches allegedly did not sufficiently disassemble the opponents, while the latter, on the contrary, approached the fights in full combat readiness and thanks to this they took the victory away from the capital.
So, reflecting on the reasons for the failure of the Russians, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov identified three possible reasons - “skill, bad luck and class”, but he admitted that in the past few months he spent too little time in the hall, and therefore could not properly help the wards.
Of course, certain shortcomings of mentors have a place to be, but this can hardly be called the main cause of the fiasco.
Firstly, MMA has been and remains one of the most unpredictable sports in which it is extremely difficult to predict a triumph. Surprises happen even in the battles of favorites with outsiders, what can we say about meetings of equals. In Moscow, most of the fights took place between fighters of approximately the same class, as a result of which one should not be very surprised at the negative results of compatriots.
For Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Roman Kopylov, this show was the debut in the UFC, and most Russians either had a negative balance of victories and defeats in the organization, or lost earlier. So, Grigory Popov, Hadis Ibragimov and Zelim Imadayev together lost in their first battles under the auspices of the largest MMA promotion, and Alexander Yakovlev won only three out of seven fights in the Absolute Fighting Championship.
So far, only Ramazan Emeev has not had a single defeat in the UFC. He prevailed in all three fights, but even this fact did not allow him to be considered a clear favorite in a duel with Anthony Rocco Martin. So, the level of opposition of the Russian left much to be desired, and Sam Alvi was his strongest opponent. At the same time, the main achievements of the American are 18 battles over five years and a place in the top 15 middle weight categories.
Undoubtedly, the matchmakers tried to ensure that the Russians at least did not concede to their rivals in the class. So, in the opposite corner there were a number of athletes who had two losses in a row in a liability and were on the verge of dismissal. This applies to Danny Roberts, David Zavada and Davy Grant, due to the lack of the right to make mistakes, they felt a serious burden of responsibility. Ed Herman and the same Martin felt relatively calm. The assets of the first were a victory over Patrick Cummins, and the second lost only one battle out of the last five.
Secondly, we must not forget about the pressure exerted on the Russians. Of course, all failures cannot be attributed to this, but denying this fact is also not possible. Magomedsharipov himself noted that it is much more difficult for him to fight at home. Nurmagomedov said the same thing after the tournament in Abu Dhabi. But if Khabib is the champion and one of the strongest fighters of the UFC, regardless of weight categories, and Zabit is one of the main contenders for the title, then their compatriots cannot boast of such skill. As a result, for many the support of home stands was not a catalyst for success, but the reason for the increased level of expectations, under the press of which they could not show their maximum.
In the history of MMA, there have been enough cases when athletes conceded not because of a shortage of coaches and an incorrect plan for a fight, but because of excitement and mistakes. It is enough to recall the battle between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. At that time, the Brazilian owned the featherweight champion and did not lose for ten years, but the desire to “kill” the Irishman at all costs played a cruel joke with him. He rushed forward and after 13 seconds was knocked out.
At the same tournament, Chris Weidman lost the middleweight title to Luke Rockhold, making a grave mistake. In the third round, the athlete tried to surprise him with a spinning kick (kick from a turn) and miscalculated. The attempt was comical and extremely inaccurate, which subsequently led him to defeat. The American missed a takedown, after which he suffered beatings on the ground for several minutes.
Both of these failures were the result of gross miscalculations of athletes, but it is unlikely that the coaches are to blame. At critical moments, some athletes keep their heads cool, while others act emotionally and often make the wrong decisions. And this applies both to the battles with the participation of Aldo and Weidman, and those that took place at the tournament in Moscow.
According to some, Zavada allegedly knew perfectly well that Nurmagomedov was having difficulty counterattacking on the ground, so he specifically allowed him to lay himself on the floor. And this despite the fact that David is a pronounced drummer and only once won with the help of the technique, and Abubakar - once lost by surrender. It is worth noting that the reason for this was not a technical error on earth, but the state of the groggs. In a duel with Pavel Kushch, he was on the verge of a knockdown, after which he allowed his opponent to take his back.
The same goes for Imadayev. He won the first round, dominated the second, but at the key moment he allowed himself negligence and forgot about the defense. As a result, the blow to the backhand performed by Roberts fell exactly in the jaw and became the cause of the knockout.
But despite all the above factors, the main reason for the failure of the Russians at the tournament in Moscow is the level of the fighters themselves. In the light of the triumph of Khabib Nurmagomedov and the successes of Alexander Volkov, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Pyotr Yan, domestic fans are automatically waiting for the emergence of new stars. Each debutant is considered as a potential contender for the title in the future, as a result of which the same achievements are required of him.
However, it must be understood that the number of super-talented fighters is limited. In connection with the development of the Russian market, the UFC has signed contracts with many domestic athletes, but they are noticeably inferior in level to their predecessors. If at first the promotion took exclusively future stars to itself, then recently less promising representatives have received contracts, which is explained by the growing popularity of MMA and the number of tournaments, and, accordingly, the need to search for new names. In view of this, the drop in results is not a surprise.
Conditional Popov and Imadayev are noticeably inferior to Nurmagomedov in the class, as a result of which they cannot show similar results. Yes, they have achieved serious success in their native arena, but it is much more difficult for them to compete with world talents. In view of this, defeat is inevitable.
It is worth noting that previously many experienced serious problems when moving from smaller promotions to the UFC. Suffice it to recall the former PRIDE star Antonio Rodrigo Nogueiro. Before joining the Absolute Fighting Championship, his track record included 28 victories, four losses and one draw, but in the American organization he won only five of 11 fights.
Of the most recent, Ben Askren's example is most revealing. He was considered the best fighter in the world outside the UFC, but after signing the contract with the promotion he lost in two fights out of three. Moreover, his only victory over Robbie Lawler was the cause of a judicial error, and failure - real disasters. So, at first he was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal in five seconds, and then he was “strangled” by Demian Maya. And this taking into account the fact that the American was considered one of the greatest grapplers on the planet, and he himself declared that in this component he is superior to Habib.