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On May 15th, the UFC announced that they will be holding their first ever event in Russia on September 15th. Officially titled “UFC Fight Night: Moscow,” this event will be held at the Olimpiyskiy Arena which can hold up to 35,000 people and was originally built for the 1980 Summer Olympics. However, due to the way the UFC wants to portion off the arena, it’s expected that the maximum capacity for this event will be 15,000.
With 3 months still to go, let’s take a look at what details we already know about this landmark event and speculate on a few more:
Why is the UFC Holding an Event in Russia?
It’s no secret that the UFC is on a mission to conquer the globe. They regularly hold major international events in countries like Brazil and Canada on an annual basis. Additionally, the UFC is already scheduled to hold events in other countries like Singapore on June 23rd and Germany on July 22nd. So, it’s not a surprise that the world’s largest MMA company is finally heading to Russia.
David Shaw, Senior Vice President of UFC international and content, made the following comments about the upcoming UFC event in Russia, according to ESPN:
“Russia is a key part of UFC’s international expansion strategy. The demand from our fans to bring a live event to Russia has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential this market holds for us, we knew this was the perfect time to bring UFC Fight Night to Moscow.”
The biggest reason why the UFC’s popularity is rising in Russia is due to the success that Russian fighters are currently having in the UFC. None more successful than Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov the first Russian to hold a title in the UFC. Nurmagomedov is 26-0 and the current lightweight champion. Since joining the UFC in 2012, “The Eagle” is 10-0 with 6 of those wins coming by Decision. Unfortunately, he won’t be fighting on this card. His star power will be reserved for big PPV events.
Top featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov (15-1) is 3-0 in the UFC and riding an overall 11 fight win streak. He just defeated Kyle Bochniak at UFC 223 by Unanimous Decision and is inching closer to a high profile fight in his division. It’s unknown as to whether or not he can be ready in time for a September fight.
Alexander Volkov (30-6) is from Moscow and currently ranks as the #3 heavyweight in the UFC. Volkov has won 6 straight fights and is 4-0 inside the octagon. He last fought at UFC Fight Night 127 where he headlined the event against Fabricio Werdum. Volkov won the fight by KO in the 4th round. His camp is waiting to see who his next potential opponent will be as they have their eyes on the winner of the Cormier – Miocic heavyweight title fight at UFC 226 in July. Although they haven’t ruled out a fight in Moscow on September 15th, it’s highly unlikely that they will.
In addition to these three stars, there are several other Russian fighters who we’ll take a look at in the next section that are being associated with this event.
UFC Fight Night: Moscow Fight Card
Currently, we know very little about this fight card. With 3 months until the event, there’s still a great deal of time for the UFC to finalize the fights. As of now, it’s being reported that the “UFC Fight Night: Moscow” will have 12 fights. The main card will feature 5 bouts and the preliminary card will feature 7 bouts.
Initially, the main event of the night was going to be Fabricio Werdum against Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik in a heavyweight showdown. Yes, it’s the same Werdum who just got pummeled by Volkov a few months ago. Unfortunately, Werdum, was removed from this fight event due to being flagged for a violation with the USADA.
With Werdum out, the UFC turned to their “go-to” heavyweight Mark Hunt (13-12-1), who has fought just about every notable athlete that the division has seen over the last 5 years. Hunt has gone 3-2-1 in his last 6 UFC fights. He’s coming off a decision loss to rising prospect Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221 this past February.
Oleinik (56-11-1) won his last fight on May 12th at UFC 224 against Junior Albini via submission. That marked the 44th submission victory in his impressive career. In the UFC, “The Boa Constrictor” is 5-2 and looking to get a big win in his home country on September 15th.
As of now, this is the only confirmed fight. However, there are several rumors about potential fighters and matchups being mulled over for this event.
The previously mentioned Kyle Bochniak took to Twitter to call out “The Russian Hammer” Artem Lobov for a fight in Moscow. Perhaps, no other Russian fighter needs a win more than Lobov who’s lost two straight fights and is 2-4 since joining the UFC. I see no reason why the UFC can’t make this fight happen.
Welterweight fighter Ramazan Emeev (17-3) won his UFC 224 bout against Alberto Mina and is now lobbying for a chance to fight on the Moscow card. Emeev is 2-0 in the UFC and has won 14 of his last 15 fights. Emeev made the following comments about UFC Fight Night: Moscow and how popular the sport is in Russia, according to MMAJunkie.com:
“I only hope that I could participate in the (UFC Russia) event that they’re organizing. I hope that my manager is going to get a place for me. I think that the reception is going to be perfectly Moscow because they have hundreds of fighters participating in the UFC and around the world, so to bring this Fight Night to Moscow is very important. The public is looking for this type of advance in Moscow.”
Keep a look out over the next few months to see if Emeev, Lobov, or other Russian fighters end up being booked for this historic event.
UFC Fight Night: Moscow Ticket Information
With the current Russian economy still trying to rebound from its worst recession in the last few decades, the UFC has “adjusted” their ticket prices, according to BlooyElbow.com. These “adjusted”
rates range from $24 dollars (1,500 rubles) to $513 dollars (32,000 rubles). A quick comparison with tickets costs for UFC 226 in Las Vegas, shows just how much of an “adjustment” the UFC made for the Moscow event. UFC 226 ticket prices range from $70 dollars to $1,725 dollars. Even the previously mentioned Singapore event has their lowest tickets for twice as much as Moscow at $48 dollars.
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