UFC vet who competed from 1993 to 2008. The first Russian MMA star, Oleg Taktarov took the UFC by storm. With experience in competitive Sambo and Judo (as well as a 3rd degree Judo black belt and master of sport status in both), Taktarov was also one of the of the few early UFC fighters to enter with prior MMA experience. He studied Sambo at a local gymnasium in Sarov, Russia, which eventually led to a military career as a combat instructor working with covert operatives and KGB agents. After his military career, he entered into a no-rules proto-MMA tournament in Latvia in 1993, called White Dragon. He won all three of his tournament fights to become the event champion, and shortly thereafter moved to Hollywood with the goal of becoming an action movie star. He took acting classes, but breaking into film was proving a fruitless task. It wouldn't be until 1997 that he'd land his first movie role. However, he did strike up an association at the time, and it was with Guy Mezger and the Lion's Den. That friendship, and a need to pay the bills brought him back to no-rules fighting and the UFC for UFC 5. Over the course of his career he would defeat Marco Ruas and Tank Abbott (both at the height of their careers) and take Ken Shamrock to a draw. He came out of retirement in 2007 defeating John Marsh at Bodogfight: USA vs. Russia and Mark Kerr at YAMMA Pit Fighting. His MMA career brought around the larger dreams of acting and Taktarov has become one of the most successful fighters to ever make the transition most notably as Nikolai in the 2010 movie Predators. Currently, he's working on two projects, Rockland and Kowel's Voice, set for release in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
|"The Russian Bear"
|Place of birth