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Missed Fists: Somehow, MMA happened in Belarus

Aleksandr Kudin lands a front kick on Ivan Golub at an M-1 Global show in Minsk, Belarus, on April 18, 2020
@Grabaka_Hitman, Twitter

Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.

With most combat sports organizations doing the sensible thing and shutting down their operations while the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve enjoyed having the time to use this space to re-watch an all-time PRIDE classic and take a peek back at the pre-UFC days of stars like Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Rose Namajunas.

This week, thanks to Russia’s M-1 Global promotion, we’re getting a brief return to normalcy.

(Clips cultivated by the unstoppable @Grabaka_Hitman, make sure to follow!)

Aleksandr Kudin vs. Ivan Golub
Ivan Kulak vs. Makar Yanuk
Sergey Alekseevich vs. Vladimir Buriy
Anton Fedorovich vs. Dmitry Pastukhov

AL: Let’s start with M-1 Global: Road to NFG 2 (available in its entirety on YouTube), which took place in Minsk, Belarus on April 18. You know what’s great about MMA? Even its most obscure pockets can provide genuinely thrilling highlights.

Case in point, Aleksandr Kudin Sparta-kicking Ivan Golub in the face and then beasting with a standing choke.

JM: I’m not gonna lie, when the coronavirus started shutting down events, I got a little worried. Especially because, paradoxically, it seemed like the bigger shows—the ones we don’t cover here—were the ones who were gonna try and soldier on while our bread and butter outfits were going to be boarded up for some time. Even if some small shows still go on, I thought, the quality of the content is certainly going to drop off due to just overall lower volume.

But damn if I wasn’t wrong as hell. Dropping someone with a teep to the face and then choking them out is quality viewing, no matter the circumstances.

AL: As you can imagine, putting these shows together in the current climate can’t have been easy, so what we have here is mostly a bunch of fast finishes featuring several fighters that are competing for the first or second time as pros.

Here’s Ivan Kulak improving to 2-0 with a pretty nice clinch knee.

Shades of Wanderlei-Rampage!

JM: That’s solid work for Ivan but two things. First, I still can’t get over how weird it is to see events under these circumstances. Everything is so quiet this feels like a glorified gym sparring session, though obviously that wasn’t the case for Makar Yanuk.

Second, did you know that in Russian, Kulak translates to “fist?” Can you imagine if there was somebody in American MMA with such a perfect fighting name? Ivan Fist sounds like a henchman for Kingpin.

AL: How about some heavyweight fun?

Sergey Alekseevich and Vladimir Buriy put in a spirited effort. Buriy executed a slick throw to start things off, but Alekseevich battled back before finding a nasty neck crank.

JM: This fight was a journey. I love Buriy’s sacrifice throw. It’s one of my favorite things to see in MMA because it flirts so closely with disaster that when you pull it off, it’s awesome. And then after the throw he even advances to mount! I thought for sure the fight was over at that point, especially since Alekseevich was doing the real gomer tactic of throwing punches while being mounted.

That shows what I know though as Sergey just kinda stood up into a reversal and that was basically all she wrote. Buriy seemed to be tired and so Alekseevich just took over from there. Great comeback and a really great fight, especially for regional heavyweights.

AL: And lastly, we have some good ol’ fashioned skullduggery as Anton Fedorovich uses the classic flick kick to the nuts to set up this TKO of Dmitry Pastukhov.

In all seriousness, that was a clear accident and unfortunately for Pastukhov he wasn’t getting any help from the ref on this day.

JM: In all seriousness to you sir, I’m not even sure the kick hits Pastukhov.

Maybe the toe flicks the cup, but Pastukhov reacts like he caught a flush shot there. Methinks homie got caught trying to play the game.

Valery Skrabovsky vs. Ivan Korshun
Gennady Varaksa vs. Alexander Potapenko
Arseniy Tabola vs. Muhammadzhon Eralizoda
Vladislav Novitskiy vs. Maxim Rzheusky
Denis Maher vs. Validzhon Serdarov

AL: This next show also took place in Minsk, on April 15, M-1 Global: Heroes of the Black Square. That title is just so apocalypse chic.

JM: Definitely leader in the clubhouse right now for best named event. That is until Jon Jones fights Jan Blachowicz at UFC 252: Jon on Jan.

AL: Valery Skrabovsky made sure his debut was one to remember by punching fellow newcomer Ivan Korshun out of the damn ring.

Shades of Wanderlei-Rampage 2!

JM: What’s great about this is that the punching him out of the ring is really ancillary. Korshun doesn’t get cracked with a big punch or anything, it’s a low kick that completely immobilizes him and he’s leaning against the ropes so when the punches come in, he just kinda tips over and falls out.

AL: That finish is in stark contrast to this next one by heavyweight Gennady Varaksa, who puts Alexander Potapenko away with an adorable counter boop.

Not so adorable for Potapenko, probably.

JM: I’m not entirely sure what Potapenko was aiming to do here. He clearly shoots in for a double but then, midway through, sees the uppercut coming and tries to cover up? Once you commit to a game plan, you’ve got to see it through.

If the uppercut had just whiffed, Potapenko would’ve ended up just, like, ramming Varaksa in the stomach with his head. Which actually, is technically illegal? Just a strange set of circumstances all around.

AL: As if to highlight how green this talent is, we have a couple of armbar finishes that wouldn’t have been out of place at one of the early UFC shows, courtesy of Arseniy Tabola and Vladislav Novitskiy:

Tabola’s opponent Muhammadzhon Eralizoda may as well be Art Jimmerson out there, while Novitskiy, the card’s most experienced fighter at 7-3 heading into his fight, may as well be Fedor.

JM: Genuinely shocked that Tabola didn’t finish that guillotine. It looked like he had Eralizoda dead to rights. Eralizoda’s post-escape plan of trying to pass by bringing his arm behind him, well, that’s just not smart.

As for Novitskiy, that armbar setup was pretty telegraphed but hey, it worked. And he’s another guy with a name that sounds straight out of a comic book: Vladislav Novitskiy.

AL: I just want to say, I find these finishes refreshing. So sue me!

JM: Let’s be honest, if anyone is getting sued here, it’s gonna be me.

AL: And in case anyone thought this was strictly amateur hour, we have Denis Maher, a middleweight who at least has the record of an intriguing prospect as he improved to 6-0 with this almost polite first-round choke of Validzhon Serdarov (now 0-1).

JM: Look, I’m a big believer in giving young fighters tune-up fights but at 5-0, you should probably be fighting someone with at least some experience and not someone making their debut. It makes me look at your five-finger guillotine and not appreciate it as much as I would otherwise.

AL: I’m going to remind you of this comment when Maher is 12-0 and headlining a UFC Fight Night card in Fiji.


What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Aleksandr Kudin’s Sparta kick to the face
    (50 votes)
  • 7%
    Sergey Alekseevich and Vladimir Buriy’s heavyweight tussle
    (6 votes)
  • 20%
    Valery Skrabovsky knocks Ivan Korshun out of the ring
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    Denis Maher’s five-finger choke
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    Other (leave comment below)
    (4 votes)
79 votes total Vote Now

If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked, or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter – @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee – using the hashtag #MissedFists.

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