Let's Talk About These Caucasian Highlanders


With the recent success of the athletes getting signed from south Russia, follow Mr.Brutality into their homeland:

As we are all now well aware, the 'Russian Invasion' has occurred within the UFC, with new Russian prospects already representing an astonishing win percentage in the UFC since January of 2012. However, the term 'Russian Invasion' is mis-leading - it would be more accurate to refer to this group as the 'Caucasian Invasion'.

While the term 'Caucasian' is often incorrectly used in North America to describe to anyone who is white, these men are true Caucasians - they are highlanders who hail from the Caucasus mountains in Southwestern Russia. So while they are technically Russians and subject to the Russian government, they truly do not represent the culture of Mother Russia.

In regards to MMA, we are looking at two of the republics in the mountains: Chechnya and Dagestan. We have seen political unrest in this zone on our news channels, particularly about Chechnya, but we are now also witnessing the martial arts skills and aggressive fighting instincts of their native athletes.

It should come as no surprise for students of history: these are warrior nations that have defended their ethnic homeland from invaders from every direction for thousands of years – from the Mongolians, to the Ottomans, to the Cossacks, to Stalin, and now Putin.


While this remains a complex socio-polical subject, there is a historical and mutual animosity between ethnic Russians (Slavic) and the people of the southern mountains. In recent years the cultural/lingual differences, the Eastern Orthodox Christianity vs. Islam debate, and cries for independence in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union culminated in two ultra-brutal invasions of Chechnya in the 90's. The majority of Chechnya (especially the urban zones), along with selected target areas of Dagestan, suffered and still suffer greatly from the careless and oppressive Russian military operations.


The highlanders retaliated with terror attacks, kidnappings, and guerrilla style ambushes. While Dagestanis and Chechens historically practiced a mystical version of Islam known as Sufism, there has been concerns about the growing number of converts to the ultra-strict and violent Jihadi form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. This conversion, along with the lawlessness of the 90's and the oppression of the Russian army, has transformed the Chechen separatists into the most feared and experienced Islamic extremists in the world.

Despite the recent dangers, these two republics are quickly becoming powerhouses in the young sport of mixed martial arts. Whether this results from a genetic gift for violence, a serious cultural dedication to the combat arts from a young age, or a combination of the two, this region in the far south tip of the Russian landmass has created some the greatest sambo, wrestling, and now MMA competitors the world has ever seen.

Think about how impressive that is: China and India have a combined population of over 2.4 BILLION people, yet we have barely seen any MMA potential come out those nations, while this tiny, remote mountain region is giving us multiple top-10 athletes. Here are some of the most notable names:

Also of note, for those who are confused by the name similiarities, these Eastern hemisphere MMA athletes are NOT Dagestani/Chechen:


What is it about this geographical region that provides such fearsome competitors in the realm of unarmed combat?

Is it the long world history of warfare, or perhaps growing up learning to fight your peers? Shabulat Shamhalaev once mentioned that in Dagestan, a land of multiple ethnic groups, looking at someone wrong in the street would lead to a fist fight.

Should we be worried that Adlan Amagov, an intensely devout Muslim, pulled out of his fight for 'personal and religious reasons' right before the Sochi Olympics?

Will 'the Eagle' Nurmagomedov bring a belt back to their homeland soon?

Once these guys refine their aggressive striking, and master weight-cutting, will they be unstoppable? I can't wait to find out, and I am looking forward to the highlanders bringing forth a brutal 2014.


The old "Dagestani hello"

More from MMA Fighting

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.