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Missed Fists: Picking squads for the brutal game of ‘Dagestani basketball,’ more

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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.

We pride ourselves on having diverse sporting tastes here, beyond just the obvious delights of MMA, kickboxing, boxing, knight fights, what have you, so it’s always fun to be able to talk about more traditional sports. With the NBA All-Star game taking place this weekend, what better time than now to talk about the roundball spinoff known as “Dagestani Basketball.”

(By the way, much of this feature’s highlights were compiled by @Barrelelapierna, who makes lists of the best finishes every week. Make sure to give them a follow!)

Dagestani Basketball

AL: Man… what the hell is this?

JM: It’s how basketball was played before this generation of whiners ruined the game, that’s what it is.

AL: That’s right, for all of you old-school heads constantly complaining about the current NBA’s lax defense, offense-juicing rules, and general sawftness, we have this mutant form of basketball from Russia (of course, it’s from Russia).

Here’s how Bloody Elbow’s Anton Tabuena described Dagestani basketball when it was first introduced to the world by Khabib Nurmagomedov a few years ago.

“In this modified sport that very loosely resembles basketball, there are no traveling violations, no out-of-bounds rule, and perhaps most noticeable, no fouls. The end result looks more like a mashup of rugby and basketball, with a bit of grappling and wrestling involved as well.”

I’d make a joke about how this doesn’t really sound like a sport, but then again we could say the same about MMA.

JM: This is the world’s best sport. Rugby and basketball together? Sign me up. Just so long as, you know, I’m playing with equally skilled people. I don’t want to go into this outfit of physical specimens.

AL: And maybe since we’re not even dribbling, just cover the whole area in pads? Just a suggestion.

Well, while we’re here, it’s our obligation to draft starting fives from the MMA world, isn’t it? I’ll let you go first.

JM: World’s easiest choice: Khabib. He has the experience and he’s friggin’ Khabib.

AL: Automatic pick there. I don’t know if he’s the originator, but clearly he’s the innovator. The Jerry West or Elgin Baylor of DagBall.

I’ll make the next two picks since this is a snake draft (I just decided this is a snake draft) and yes, I’m sticking with AKA. Gotta have my man “DC” holding down the middle, then I’m getting sneaky by adding Ben Askren to make a dirty game just a little bit dirtier.

JM: You fool, you’ve left by far the next best choice available. Walt Harris is a huge human being who tried out with a couple of NBA teams following his college basketball career. My man can play every aspect of this game and he’s gonna take us to a chip.

Now that I’ve got those two pieces in place, I’m gonna snap up Greg Hardy. Look, neither of us like the man but I’m extremely confident he’d be great at this game. He’s like a poor man’s Myles Garrett.

AL: Going for actual competent athletes? Disappointing.

I’m rounding out my team with Stefan Struve, if just to give the man something to do in retirement and because I have got to see what “Skyscraper” can do on the basketball court, and then a much-needed wild card in Clay Guida. Really, Guida’s endless energy would make him a triple-double threat every game, wouldn’t it?

Who else you got before I make my last pick?

JM: You’ve left so many good options on the table, it’s hard to narrow it down. I guess I’ll have to take Francis Ngannou since the man learned to fight like two years ago and is already the best heavyweight in the world basically. Give him six months of practice and he’ll run this game too.

And then because we do need a little more savvy on this squad, I’ll take Alexander Volkanovski. As we established, this game is basically rugby so I want a former rugby player anchoring my team.

AL: Based on the footage we’ve seen, Volk should probably have been a top-4 pick. Whatever plans I have go out the window now as I’ll have to roll out Henry Cejudo as a counter. Plus, he’d be the best (and by best I mean worst) trash talker on the floor, a classic agitator. And a pretty good wrestler too, I guess.

JM: The Patrick Beverley of DagBall.

AL: Precisely. So here are our lineups:

Team Jed

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Walt Harris
Greg Hardy
Francis Ngannou
Alexander Volkanovski

Team AK

Daniel Cormier
Ben Askren
Stefan Struve
Clay Guida
Henry Cejudo

Definite old school vs. new school vibe here. We’ll let the people decide which team comes out on top:

Poll

Which fantasy team would win a game of Dagestani basketball?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Team Jed
    (245 votes)
  • 20%
    Team AK
    (63 votes)
308 votes total Vote Now

Alexander Wesner vs. Benjamin Russ

There are actual MMA highlights for us to discuss, so let’s start with Alexander Wesner’s “dim mak” touch KO from a German MMA Championship show on Saturday.

Definitely had to watch that one a few times to figure out what happened.

JM: The lesson, as always, is don’t run yourself face first onto your opponent’s punches.

AL: Sound advice. And what advice would you have for our next unfortunate knockout victim?

Artem Lukiyanov vs. Ismail Israfilov

I’ll just say that it’s all hugs and handshakes until someone goes thud.

JM: Don’t throw a weak jab while stepping backwards amid an offensive blitz from your opponent? Seriously, homie paws a left out there as if that would have in any way accomplished anything if it even landed. Gotta know when to retreat and when to sit down and counter, not do the worst of both.

AL: Someday when we’re able to meet up again, I’d like to politely request that if you’re going to do something like this to me, please don’t show me love first. Just be honest about your intentions and get it over with.

Artem Lukiyanov vs. Ismail Israfilov from Belarusian Fighting Championship 66 and the rest of the show are available on the BFC YouTube channel.

Marcos Breno vs. Leandro da Silva

Zipping on over to Brazil, we have another spectacular KO, this one courtesy of 23-year-old bantamweight prospect Marcos Breno. He improved to 13-2 with this win on Sunday.

Major props to the referee too for nailing that fight-ending pose.

JM: Wow. Really performative stuff from the referee there. Clearly trying to make an impression for the biggest shows.

AL: CDL is a promotion to keep an eye on as I’ve been told by our own Guilherme Cruz that it is a joint venture from MMA veteran Lucas Martins and famous YouTuber Whindersson Nunes. Who is this guy, you might ask? Let’s just say I was going to call him the Brazilian Jake Paul, but based on the fact that he has twice as many YouTube followers as Paul, it’s more like Paul is the American version of him!

And yes, before anyone asks, Gui also tells us that Nunes is set to take part in an exhibition boxing match soon.

Harry Hunsucker vs. Cory Moon

Fans may remember Harry Hunsucker from an unsuccessful appearance on the Contender Series in November, where he was on the wrong end of a contract-winning performance from Jared Vanderaa.

He’s already bounced back from that loss with this 45-second clobbering of Cory Moon at a Hard Rock MMA show in Bowling Green, Ky.

Best of luck to Hunsucker in his mission to make it to the UFC someday, but that name belongs in a promotion called Hard Rock MMA (as does Moon’s, for that matter).

JM: Nothing to see here. Just some tubby guys throwing hands until one goes boom.

Dean Tromans vs. Bimo Adriano

AL: We love when fighters post their own highlights (especially when they’re as good as this one) so Dean Tromans, the floor is yours.

JM: What’s that old saying? You are your own best promoter. And with a highlight like that, Tromans, you’re a hell of a promoter.

AL: That clip came from Urban Fight Night 24, which also featured Randall “The Limb Reaper” Rayment claiming a soul. I wrote about Rayment’s injury-inducing calf kick here, but the people demand your take on it.

JM: My immediate take is OW. My second take is: MMA fighters should really learn to check leg kicks better.

Jorge Diaz-Flores vs. Felipe Munoz Crespo

AL: We’ll close out with some boxing, first heralding an impressive pro debut for Jorge Diaz-Flores at a Miguel Cotto-promoted event in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

Sticking with the basketball theme here, it looks a little bit like he’s taking out LaMelo Ball here.

JM: Oof. He was doing so well at just covering up and holding on for dear life, too! Then he had to go and get in in his head that he needed to fight back. Classic mistake.

AL: Speaking of classic mistakes, heavyweight Hayden Wright (of the career 2-13 record) didn’t even come close to making weight for a bout with Khalid Baker in Sydney, apparently missing the mark by 20 kgs (over 44 pounds).

Of course, he subsequently retired and was rewarded with some sort of trophy, because this is combat sports.

Happy trails, I guess?

JM: Missing the mark by 44 pounds has to be a record. He deserves all the trophies for that. That’s honestly the most impressive thing I’ve seen all year long, I think.

Heroes get remembered but legends never die. Welcome to immortality Hayden Wright.


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.