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Absolute Championship Berkut 50 Breakdown

Dan Tom




Salimgirey Rasulov (15-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 263 lbs
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Zelimkhan Umiev (2-6-16)
  • Camp: Fight Club No. 1 (Makhachkala, Dagestan)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ ACB Heavyweight Champion
+ Pankration World Champion (WUFC)
+ Wushu Sanda Base
+ 9 KO victories
+ 8 First round finishes
+ KO power
+ Accurate left hook
+ Hard leg kicks
+ Good footwork & movement
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Crafty trips & sweeps
+ Aggressive pressure against fence
^ Strikes well off the clinch breaks
+ Competent top game
^ Works well from the mount


Denis Goltsov (18-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’6″ Age: 26 Weight: 236 lbs
  • Last Fight: KO win / Paul Beuntello (7-5-16)
  • Camp: Sambo Piter (St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Master of Spot in Sambo & Boxing
+ Combat Sambo World Champion
+ 8 KO victories
+ 9 First round finishes
+ 7 Submission wins
+ KO power
+ Excellent footwork
^ Good lateral movement & angles
+ Active & accurate jab
+ Dangerous knees & kicks
^ Superb timing & interceptions
+ Crafty clinch trips
+ Active & attacking guard game
+ Excellent leg dexterity
^ Good guard retention & sweeps


Closing out an amazing year for Absolute Championship Berkut is ACB 50: The Evolution. Headlining an event stacked with worldwide talent is a battle for the heavyweight crown as Salimgirey Rasulov defends his title against Denis Goltsov. Hailing from Makhachkala, Salimgirey Rasulov has come a long way since his days competing in Pankration. Since losing to Peter Graham back in 2013 after sustaining an injury, Rasulov has made a stunning comeback under the ACB organization as he has won four fights in a row en route to the title.

Looking to spoil the party is Denis Goltsov, a Combat Sambo Champion who’s MMA rise has been on the radar of many. Sharing common opponents to his counterpart like Yuri Gorbenko & Dmitry Poberezhets, Denis Goltsov has had no easy road to the title. Now riding a 13-fight winning streak that includes 3 UFC veterans, the young Sambo Champion from St. Petersburg will have his chance to stake his claim for the ACB heavyweight title.

Starting off on the feet, we will get the see two different styles do battle for supremacy. Embracing his Wushu Sanda base, the champion strikes with a fluidity that only comes from years of practice. Rasulov stays light on his feet as he moves deceptively well in and out. Utilizing his jab in a pawing fashion to gauge distance, Salimgirey will leap into his attacks as he throws an accurate left hook. When feeling confident in reading his opposition’s movement, Rasulov will punctuate his combinations with spinning kicks and back fists, as he looks to intercept his opponent as they evade.

Unloading the occasional flurry of punches, Rasulov also has excellent leg kicks that he uses to debase his opposition. Against a taller opponent who likes to work from a more traditional boxing stance, leg kicks could be a key component to Rasulov’s assaults. That said, Goltsov will not be easy to hit as he has steadily rounded out his stance and overall arsenal. A Master of Sport in Boxing, Goltsov initially struggled to find his range like most strikers who enter MMA. However, Denis did not take long to find his niche as he has seemingly added to his arsenal.

Utilizing a powerful jab to accentuate his length advantage, Goltsov will actively snap it at his opposition with accuracy. Stepping off at an angle as he moves his head, you almost forget that Denis is 6-foot 6-inches tall as he fights technical like a lighter weight fighter. With the range and movement Goltsov possesses, many fighters will often grow desperate to close the distance. In doing so, their aggression tends to leave them open as Denis has developed well-timed knees that he uses to intercept his opponent’s efforts.

Goltsov has also displayed a developing kicking game, as 2 of his last 4-stoppages came via head kick against two UFC veterans known for their striking(James McSweeney & Paul Buentello). Showing his finesse in the way he turns over his kicks, Goltsov’s leg dexterity also translates well into his ground game, a place where he may have some success in this fight. Although Rasulov displays good fundamentals when fighting inside an opponent’s guard, he has also shown a tendency to take breaks whenever he is topside in these stanzas.

Against an active and attacking submission fighter like Goltsov, taking breaks could make the difference between winning and losing this fight. Utilizing his aforementioned long legs, Goltsov also has agile hips that assist his efforts in guard retentions and attacks. However, it is the butterfly sweep that is the silent killer of Goltsov’s ground game. Needing only one butterfly hook in, Denis will elevate his opposition as he gets underneath them to complete his sweep.

Typically ending up on top in some variation of a half-guard, Goltsov is only one maneuver away from achieving his favored mount position. A fan of the triangle choke, Goltsov does an excellent job of setting it up and falling back for the finish. Although Rasulov has never been submitted in mixed martial arts, he tends to defend submission attempts by allowing his opponents to set them up as he times his escapes. Despite Salimgirey being successful in this so far, he will playing with fire anytime he tangles with Goltsov.

However, if the champion can get through Goltsov’s initial threats on the floor, we could see him steadily take over the fight as time goes on. Despite Denis being dangerous off of his back, he has shown to be too willing fight from there in the past, as he tends to succeed position and take damage in both victory and defeat. In fact, both men share the same criticisms in that they are much more effective from the top than the bottom.

When the champion is on the bottom, he will usually attempt to lock down his opposition in half-guard or look to create a scramble to get back to his feet. Since both men fight better from topside, the man who can establish position first will likely be the one with the advantage. Where I feel the champion should have an advantage, is whenever these two fight inside the clinch. With Rasulov being at a natural disadvantage at range, the champion will likely be looking to push this fight into clinching space whenever he can.

Although Salimgirey will sometimes lull the action as he usually likes to sit back and counterstrike, he turns into a punching machine whenever he can get his opponents pushed into the fence. Considering the height and reach advantage of Goltsov, striking off of the clinch breaks will likely be the champions best bet. That said, Rasulov will need to be on alert whenever clinching with the Sambo champion, as Goltsov has some crafty outside trips he likes to set up.

However, Denis has not shown the typical wrestling presence you would expect from a Sambo champion as he heavily relies on upper body control to execute his clinch trips and tosses. Although he may be successful with them against Rasulov, I feel that the champion shows more takedown options and diversity in his wrestling. Capable of standard trips and tosses from the clinch, Rasulov will also mix in traditional wrestling fundamentals to his approach. Using a double-leg takedown entry to pressure his opponents into the fence, Rasulov is great at sucking his opposition’s hips away from the cage as he angles them appropriately and attaches his foot sweeps to finish the job.

If the champion can continually force Goltsov to fight him in the clinch, then we could very well see Rasulov earn a hard fought decision win. That said, I feel that Goltsov is the more likely of the two men to find a finish whether they fight on the feet or the floor. Although both scenarios are possible as both men are great fighters, I ultimately see ACB having a new heavyweight king by the end of the evening.

Official Pick: Goltsov – Inside the distance



Aslambek Saidov (19-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Jesse Taylor (6-3-16)
  • Camp: Arrachion Olsztyn (Poland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple KSW Titles
+ Brown Belt BJJ
+ 4 KO victories
+ 5 Submission wins
+ 6 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Dangerous right hook
^ Coming forward or countering
+ Hard left kicks
^ Variates to body & legs
+ Physically strong in clinch
^ Good takedown chains & variety
+ Superb wrestling ability
^ Good positional rides & awareness
+ Improved submission game



Brett Cooper (22-12)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Beslan Isaev (8-20-16)
  • Camp: Team Bodyshop MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Bellator Tournament Finalist
+ Worldwide Experience (Shooto, Jungle Fights, etc.)
+ 14 KO victories
+ 2 Submission wins
+ 7 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Dangerous right hand
^ Well-timed uppercuts & hooks
+ Improved kicks
+/-Willingness to trade
^ Traditionally takes damage
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Good dirty boxing
+ Improved wrestling
^ Favors double-legs against fence


The co-main event for ACB 50 is a battle for the vacant welterweight title as Aslambek Saidov squares off with Brett Cooper. Born in Russia and fighting out of Poland, Aslambek Saidov has steadily become a talent to keep an eye on in Eastern Europe as he fights for another title. Standing in his way is the gritty American veteran, Brett Cooper, as he will be looking to win the title that has eluded him thus far in his 34-fight career.

In what is my pick for a potential fight of the night, these two men match up well on paper. Starting off on the feet, expect fireworks as we have an aggressive power puncher facing a dangerous kickboxer. Emphasizing in all the tools that are essential to his southpaw stance, the Russian possesses an accurate left cross that he attaches nicely to his right hook. Although Aslambek is not afraid to come forward with these strikes, he is arguably most effective when countering as I feel it may serve him well in this fight.

Considering that Cooper comes forward like an American tank, I see Aslambek’s check right hook being the shot to look out for as the Russian throws this punch particularly well. Variating hard left-kicks to the legs and body, Aslambek will attach hooks to counterbalance his attacks. With these strikes working well against aggressive fighters, it will be interesting to see Cooper’s approach as he fits that description. That said, the American may be the most dangerous striker Saidov has faced to date.

Carrying one-punch knockout power and a durable chin, Cooper presents a tough matchup for anyone on paper. However, the once stiff striker has made measurable improvements during the later part of his career. Moving much lighter on his feet, Cooper enters and exits more smoothly as he gives different looks to his opposition. Still possessing a right hand that can knock out anyone in the division, it is Cooper’s timing that makes him so dangerous as he variates his attacks between rear hooks and uppercuts.

Cooper has also shown to incorporate more leg and body kicks over the years, but I am not sure how much he will lean on them considering how well Saidov shows to catch kicks and counter. Although the striking battle will likely be close and entertaining, I feel that the Russian should have the advantage in the grappling department. Listed as a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you only have to watch Saidov grapple once to see his strong wrestling base.

A born and bred athlete, Aslambek shows the signs of an athletic outlier in his sheer strength. You can see examples of this as early as his third fight as Aslambek faced Andrzej Kumor. In the middle of their match, Saidov found himself underneath Kumor in a position known as the mounted crucifix. A spot that is notoriously difficult to get out from, Saidov would steadily stand back to his feet while carrying Kumor as he would then slam his opponent with relative ease.

Although Cooper has made notable improvements to his wrestling game as well, the American still shows to be susceptible defensively when his opponent wants to take him down. From his battles with Alexander Schlemenko to his fight with Saidov’s cousin, Mamed Khalidov, we have seen takedowns cost Cooper crucial rounds. Unless the American can use his size to put Aslambek on the defense, then I suspect Cooper may be outwrestled or stifled at the very least.

Should the American find himself on the bottom, he will likely be on alert as Aslambek gets right to work on advancements and submission setups. That said, Cooper is a resilient scrambler as he typically makes his opponent work hard to gain ground in grappling exchanges. With both men favoring chokes from a front-headlock position, it will be interesting to see if one man can get the upper hand. Confident in his defense from this position, Cooper will often give his head on his takedown and clinch entries.

Although the American has yet to suffer a submission loss via the Guillotine choke, Cooper could get burned if he gets too comfortable with the Russian. In the Saidov’s last fight, he showed his submission skills as he able to catch Jesse Taylor with a slick arm-in Guillotine variation. Regardless of who wins this match, I suspect we will be treated to a close and exciting contest. Although I could see Cooper’s veteran savvy and knockout power earning him a win, I ultimately feel that Saidov is the more technical fighter who’s wrestling will likely dictate this battle’s terms.

Official Pick: Saidov – Decision



Magomed Magomedov (12-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 135 lbs
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Petr Yan (3-26-16)
  • Camp: Dag Fighter (Dagestan, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ ACB Bantamweight Champion
+ Wushu Sanda World Champion
+ 4 KO victories
+ 4 Submission wins
+ 5 first round finishes
+ Relentless pace & pressure
+ Aggressive combination striker
+ Diverse kicking attack
^ Accurate spinning kicks
+ Superb wrestling & scrambling ability
+ Excellent clinch takedowns & transitions
^ Trips, throws, & tosses
+ Good grappling on top
^ Active & effective ground striker
+ Competent game from bottom
^ Favors armbars



Oleg Borisov (18-1-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 33 Weight: 135 lbs
  • Last Fight: KO win / Tural Ragimov (9-17-16)
  • Camp: Krepost Fight Club (Kostroma, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Russian Hand-to-Hand Combat Champion
+ Universal Fight Champion (Russia)
+ 9 KO victories
+ 1 Submission win
+ 6 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Deadly right hand & left hook
+ Good footwork
^ Manages & closes distance well
+ Excellent takedown defense
^ Strong hips & solid base
+ Good takedown transitions
^ Favors high-crotch single-legs
+ Excellent top game
^ Good defense & fundamentals
+ Effective ground striker


The third title fight on Absolute Championship Berkut’s legendary card is a battle at bantamweight as Magomed Magomedov defends his belt against Oleg Borisov. A Wushu Sanda world champion, Magomed Magmodeov has made an excellent transition into Mixed Martial Arts as he continues to grow in his young career. Earning his title in a fight of the year candidate performance against Petr Yan at ACB 32, Magomedov will look make a statement against one of his toughest tests to date.

A Russian Hand-to-Hand Combat champion, Oleg Borisov has also done well as he has only lost once since making his transition into Mixed Martial Arts. A former featherweight prospect, Borisov has looked spectacular since dropping down to the bantamweight division as he looks to earn the biggest title in his MMA career.

Starting off in the striking department, we essentially have a battle between the aggressive stalking of Magomedov and the devastating counter shots from Borisov. Despite coming down from a higher weight class, Borisov will be the shorter man in regards to his height and length. That said, Borisov makes up for his frame with good footwork, coupled with excellent instincts and an accurate shot selection.

Often circling just outside of range, Borisov will wait for his opposition to commit to attacking before making his move. Whether he is slipping a jab as he comes forward or countering over the top, Borisov throws fight ending shots with accuracy as he is especially devastating inside the pocket. Coupled with his ability to hit reactive takedowns or catch kicks and counter, Borisov has developed a game that plays to his advantages as well as compensates for his disadvantages.

That said, Magomedov should have the advantage anytime these to strike at range. An area where his Wushu Sanda base becomes apparent, Magomedov throws a diverse arsenal of kicks with accuracy. Not afraid to spin, the champion will variate nicely between spinning back or spinning hook kicks to the liver and head. Following up his kicks with furious punching combinations, Magomedov displays attacks and answers from all ranges.

Aside from the possibility of a knockout punch, I believe a key factor in this fight will take place in the clinch. Regardless of their success within the boxing range, both men are quick to transition to their clinch game as they usually carry a wrestling advantage over their opponent. However, this is a match where each fighter poses unique problems for the other in this area.

Although the champion has a background in Wushu Sanda, Magomedov shows the wrestling abilities that are associated more often with the Sambo practitioners of his region. Despite Magomedov showing smooth transitions to throws and trips, Borisov will be the champion’s toughest test to take down. An incredible athlete by genetics, Borisov embraces his stout frame as his wrestling game benefits greatly from it.

Displaying good hips and balance, Borisov makes himself difficult to takedown. We saw the extent of this in his last fight with Ragimov, as Tural was able to elevate Borisov with a body lock only to be reversed immediately upon landing. Not only should Borisov have an advantage in takedown defense, but he may also have an edge in offensive takedowns.

Even though the champion is an excellent wrestler himself, his aggression has shown to make him susceptible to takedowns when coming forward. Considering that Borisov gets most of his takedowns by catching his opponents coming forward, this could be something worth watching for in this fight. If Borisov can establish himself on top, he shows the ground striking acumen to end a fight.

However, Magomedov will not make for an easy target as scrambling is his specialty. Even when finding himself in bad positional spots, it does not take long for Magomedov to create a chaotic scramble that he can use to capitalize on and regain top position. Although it will be hard to out-position Borisov, Magomedov’s relentless scrambling could open up opportunities to potentially wear down the title challenger.

Although Borisov has yet to go past 3-rounds in his professional career, the thickly muscled fighter has yet to show signs of tiring in previous bouts. In what is my most anticipated fight of the night, I have a hard time forecasting a winner as this can go one of two ways: Either Borisov finds a finish before the final bell or Magomedov can survive some scary storms en route to outworking Oleg with his relentless pace.

Official Pick: Borisov – Inside the distance



Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (28-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 28 Weight: 185 lbs
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Matt Horwich (9-4-16)
  • Camp: Evolucao Thai (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple M-1 Titles
+ Decorated Combat Sambo Champion
+ Black Belt Judo
+ 12 KO victories
+ 7 Submission wins
+ 12 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Consistent pace & pressure
+ Good boxing technique
^ Combination puncher
+ Excellent clinch game
^ Trips, throws, and tosses
+ Good control from topside
^ Strong base & balance
+ Conservative game from bottom



Albert Duraev (9-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 27 Weight: 185 lbs
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Michall Tsarev (5-6-16)
  • Camp: Fight Club Berkut (Volgograd, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Former ACB Welterweight Champion
+ No-Gi Grappling Experience
+ 2 KO victories
+ 6 Submission wins
+ 4 first round finishes
+ Good footwork
^ Manages distance well
+ Good boxing technique
^ Works well off jab
+ Hard leg kicks
+ Excellent wrestling ability
+ Strong double-leg takedown
^ Reactive shots or against the fence
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Dangerous submissions from top & bottom


In a potential middleweight war, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky meets Albert Duraev on ACB 50’s main card. A decorated Combat Sambo champion, Vasilevsky has already compiled worldwide experience during his young MMA career. Earning multiple titles in the M-1 organization, Vasilevsky will now look to make his mark in Absolute Championship Berkut by facing a former champion. Although Albert Duraev was never officially dethroned at welterweight, the organization was forced to strip him of his belt after he failed to make weight for a scheduled title defense at ACB 45. Now moving back up the middleweight division, Duraev will look to make a statement as he fights his way back to the top.

Starting off on the feet, expect fireworks as both fighters possess excellent boxing abilities. More of a traditional pressure-fighter, Vasilevsky will work behind a steady flow of jabs as he looks to set up right crosses and uppercuts. Although Albert shows good defense and distance management, he does tend to keep his lead hand low which has cost him damage to his left eye in recent bouts with Gadzhiduadov and Khandozhko. Considering what Vasilevsky’s cross was able to do against Ramazan Emeev, the right cross will be the strike worth watching for Vasilevsky. That said, Duraev will have threats of his own while this fight remains standing.

Although Albert’s base is in wrestling and no-gi grappling, the former champion has developed his hands in the last few years of his career. Now, a much crisper boxer, Duraev will quickly snap off jabs and hooks with accuracy. Setting up the occasional right hand, Albert throws a devastating right uppercut that may be worth watching for in this fight. We saw this punch land in impressive fashion for Duraev in his last fight against Michail Tsarev and could find a home here considering Vasilevsky favors a shell-defense. Albert also has some hard leg kicks that could serve him well if Vasilevsky comes in heavy with his boxing stance.

Ultimately, I favor Vasilevsky on the feet as he is should be the bigger man with more firepower. That said, I do not feel the size advantage will be a massive one as Albert may have his best chances on the floor. Although Vasilevsky is the more accoladed grappler, he has shown to be much more conservative in that aspect of his game as I believe Duraev is the more dangerous grappler. Showing superb timing and instincts on his double-leg takedowns, Duraev has displayed his effectiveness by countering his opponent’s aggression with a reactive shot or out-wrestling them against the fence offensively. Once on top, Albert stays active as he has an excellent transition and submission game.

However, Vasilevsky is no easy fight on the floor as his Judo and Sambo stylings allow him to stifle most of his opponent’s attacks. Although Vasilevsky is conservative with his submissions, he demonstrates an excellent level of control when operating on top and knows when to disengage his opponent. Vasilevsky also shows to have carried over his solid hips and balance from his days as a Judoka, as he will be no easy task to take down. A crafty clinch fighter himself, Vasilevsky possesses brilliant trips and foot sweeps as I would not be surprised to see him end up on top against Albert. With being on the bottom being the weak link in both men’s game, whoever can get on top will almost certainly have an advantage.

That said, the smaller man usually has an advantage in the scrambling department, as I see that being the case here. Even if Albert is initially out-positioned by the bigger man, his ability to scramble and transition may allow him opportunities to wear down Vasilevsky and capitalize. But, if the grappling becomes a stalemate and this fight stays standing, then I favor Vasilevsky despite his tendency to take damage. Although the Sambo champion has a history of getting stunned, he has yet to be officially stopped by strikes as he is the more powerful and active puncher here. In what is a hard fight to call on paper, I can see Vasilevsky’s power and pressure earning him a closely fought decision.

Official Pick: Vasilevsky – Decision



Yusuf Raisov (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 21 Weight: 145 lbs
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Carlos de Costa (6-3-16)
  • Camp: Fight Club Berkut (Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Combat Sambo Background
+ 2 KO victories
+ 4 Submission wins
+ 3 first round finishes
+ Aggressive pace & pressure
+ Good boxing technique
+ Diverse kicking attacks
^ Accurate spinning back kicks
+ Excellent wrestling ability
^ Diverse takedowns
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Active & effective ground strikes
+ Strong inside the clinch
+ Active & attacking guard game



Marat Balayev (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 40 Weight: 145 lbs
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Suleiman Bouhata (7-15-16)
  • Camp: Alexander Nevsky (St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Master of Sport in Wrestling
+ 1 Submission win
+ 1 first round finishes
+ Wrestling Base
+ Aggressive pace & pressure
^ Well-conditioned athlete
+ Improved boxing
+ Superb takedown ability
^ Relentlessly chains & variates attempts
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Good positional awareness
^ Defends submissions well
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Rides, strikes, and advances


In a fantastic featherweight fight on the ACB 50 main card, Yusuf Raisov faces Marat Balayev. A rising star from the Combat Sambo scene, Yusuf Raisov has looked great in his young mixed martial arts career. Although he technically has more MMA fights than his opponent, Raisov will be facing his most experienced test to date. Almost twice the age of Yusuf at 40-years old, Marat Balayev has been wrestling for longer than Raisov has been alive. Getting a late start to his MMA career, Marat will now put his undefeated record on the line against a young lion.

Starting off standing, I expect Raisov to have the advantage in the striking department. Although his aggressive instincts can sometimes get the best of him, Yusuf possesses good boxing technique and does a great job of putting his punches together. A diverse kicker, Raisov throws hard Thai kicks to his opponents legs as well as accurate spinning kicks to their body. However, I am not sure how freely he will unleash his kicks considering the looming takedown threats from Balayev.

Although Balayev has shown improvements to his boxing technique, he wastes little time in boxing range as he primarily uses his strikes to set up his takedown entries. Even if Balayev does not succeed on his first shot, the former free-style wrestler is relentless in his pursuit as he chains his takedown attempts. Whether he has established a body lock or is switching off from singles to doubles, Balayev has the technical acumen of a Khabib Nurmagomedov with the pressure and pace that is comparable to Darren Elkins.

Once Balayev can get on top of his opponent, he gets right to work with ground strikes as he looks to advance his position. As you would expect from someone who has spent his life grappling, Balayev demonstrates excellent positional awareness as he does a good job of defending submissions and keeping his hips in the proper position. Although Balayev’s relentless pressure breaks most of his opponents over time, Raisov will be no easy task as the young fighter will provide many potential threats in grappling exchanges.

Coming from a base in Combat Sambo, Raisov shows the solid wrestling ability you would expect from that discipline. Whether Raisov is taking his opponents down from the clinch or with a traditional double-leg takedown, the young fighter displays the ability to ground his opponent when he decides to. Usually electing the to stand and strike, Raisov’s aggression will sometimes allow for him to be taken down as well. However, Raisov shows an excellent ability to get up as the aggressive young fighter often looks to get the last word against his opposition.

That said, getting into a grappling situation will only help his opponent’s chances, so it will be interesting to see what Raisov’s plan is for this fight. Although Raisov has the skills to take down the wrestler, he may get more than he bargained for should himself on the bottom. However, Raisov has shown to have some submissions from his back as he stays active when in this position. But, with the judges usually favoring the man on top, this will probably end up being a war for the top position. Even though I feel Balayev may be a tougher test than expected, I ultimately believe Raisov has more weapons to win as I see a bright future for this prospect.

Official Pick: Raisov – Inside the distance



Beslan Isaev (34-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 33 Weight: 170 lbs
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Steve Carl (11-26-16)
  • Camp: Fight Club Berkut (Grozny, Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple Pankration Accolades
+ Multiple Pro FC Titles
+ 18 KO victories
+ 13 Submission wins
+ 26 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Good footwork
+ Hard knees & leg kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Strikes well off the break
+ improved submission defense
+ Good transitional grappler
+ Dangerous left hook



Marcelo Alfaya (17-7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 37 Weight: 170
  • Last Fight: KO win / Anton Radman (4-9-16)
  • Camp: Team Nogueira (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Black Belt Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
+ Experienced Veteran
+ 6 KO victories
+ 6 Submission wins
+ 6 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved striking
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Works well against fence
+ Strong inside the clinch
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Always looks to take back
+ Fights well from guard


In a potential war in the welterweight division, Beslan Isaev welcomes Marcelo Alfaya to the ACB cage. A leader amongst his Fight Club Berkut stablemates, Isaev is an experienced fighter who brings the action every time he steps into the cage. Bouncing back from his only loss under the ACB banner, Beslan will now look to make another run toward the top of the division. Standing in the Russian’s way is Marcelo Alfaya, an experienced MMA veteran who has competed in the Bellator & Shooto organizations. A recent contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, Alfaya will look to build off of a knockout win he scored last April.

Starting off on the feet, I expect Isaev to have a clear striking advantage. Although Alfaya has improved his boxing over the years, the Brazilian lacks the volume and variety to his striking that makes him a consistent threat. That said, Alfaya has a dangerous right hand that Belsan will need to be aware of as we saw the Brazilian knockout Anton Radman in his last bout. With power being the last thing to go in an aging fighter, expect the counter right hand to be Alfaya’s biggest threat on the feet.

However, Isaev has some scary power in his hands as well. In fact, anytime Beslan lands on his opposition, you can almost see their face change its expression. Prodding with accurate leg kicks from the outside, Isaev will attach cross-hook combinations anytime he can corral his opponents to the cage. Keeping his knees at the ready, Belsan displays excellent instincts when it comes to intercepting his oncoming opposition. These instincts were on full display when Isaev met UFC veteran, Cody McKenzie in 2014. Desperate to take Beslan down, McKenzie repeatedly shot in for the Russian’s legs until eating a short, half-chambered knee that shut the American’s lights out.

Although Alfaya will have an advantage on paper with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, Beslan’s looming threat of knees may make him a bit more selective in his takedown attempts. That said, I do not expect Alfaya to be deterred from his normal game plan, especially when you look at Isaev’s last loss. Despite the power he possesses, Isaev is not the biggest welterweight in the division as this was apparent in his loss to Brett Cooper earlier this year. Even though Alfaya has the size and strength to pose similar problems, I do not feel that the Brazilian has the same wrestling ability.

Alfaya also favors attempting his takedowns from the fence, which could be problematic for him considering that Isaev defends well from this place. Consistently looking for under-hooks, Beslan does a good job of spinning his back off of the fence and reversing the position on his opponent. Although Cooper was able to Keep Isaev down long enough to earn a decision, we saw immediate improvements from Beslan in his next fight. Taking on Steve Carl(former WSOF Champion) last November, we saw Beslan face one of his toughest matchups on paper being that Carl is a sizeable fighter who likes to grind and grapple his opposition.

Even though Carl found success in getting Beslan down throughout the fight, Beslan would show improvements to his technique and urgency in regards to getting back to his feet. Fueled by his fighter’s spirit, Isaev would earn a hard-fought decision on the judge’s scorecards. If that version of Isaev shows up to his matchup, then I do not like Alfaya’s chances in out grappling the Russian for a win. Although I hate to discount a tough veteran like Alfaya, I feel that this fight favors Beslan Isaev as I expect to see him make a statement here.

Official Pick: Isaev – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Butorin def. Bostwick
  • Svirid def. Enomoto
  • Sarnavskiy def. Esenbaev
  • Bataev def. Sanchez
  • Arthur def. Ragimov
  • da Costa def. Kokov
  • Shcheglov def. Carvalho

Absolute Championship Berkut 50 “The Evolution” takes place on Saturday, December 18th, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Russia. For more coverage on this event stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

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Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday



The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.

He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.

“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”

Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.

“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”

The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.

“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”

Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.

“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”

It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.

“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”

Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.

“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”

When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.

In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.

“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”

Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.

“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”

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ACB 70: Luke Barnatt vs. Scott Askham Official Results

Harry Davies



ACB returned to the English city of Sheffield to host ACB 70, an exciting card headlined by top middleweights Luke Barnatt and Scott Askham.

Barnatt (13-4) and Askham (14-4) had been going back and forth for years, but it seemed they would never resolve their tension in the cage. However, at ACB 70 the pair of English middleweights both had the chance to end the rivalry for good. The card also featured a variety of homegrown English MMA talent.

MAIN CARD: 17:30PM BST – Live on Box Nation and FITE TV

  • Luke Barnatt (13-4) vs. Scott Askham (14-4) Middleweight Bout
    • Result: Scott Askham def. Luke Barnatt via Split Decision
  • Ibragim Chuzhigaev (9-5) vs. Will Noland (17-7) Middleweight Bout
    • Result: Ibrahim Chuzhigaev def. Will Noland via TKO (Strikes) Round 1 – 1:32
  • Adam Townsend (17-4) vs. Husein Kushagov (6-3) Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Adam Townsend def. Husein Kushagov via SUB (Rear-naked Choke) Round 3 – 3:24
  • Diego Marlon (26-10) vs. Bubba Jenkins (11-4) Featherweight Bout
    • Result: Bubba Jenkins def. Diego Marlon via TKO (Strikes) Round 3 – 0:44
  • Ismael de Jesus (15-6-1) vs. Ismail Naurdiev (15-1) Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Ismael de Jesus def. Ismail Naurdiev via Unanimous Decision 
  • Kane Mousah (9-1) vs. Alex Enlund (14-2) Lightweight Bout
    • Result: Kane Mousah def. Alex Enlund via Split Decision
  • Sam Boult (8-1) vs. Ashley Reece (5-0) Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Ashley Reece def. Sam Boult via Split Decision
  • Filip Macek (15-12-1) vs. Haron Orzumiev (2-1) Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Haron Orzumiev def. Filip Macek via Split Decision 


  • Shoaib Yousaf (2-0) vs. Jordan Vucenic (5-1) Featherweight Bout
    • Result: Jordan Vucenic def. Shoaib Yousaf via Unanimous Decision
  • Aaron Aby (9-3) vs. Daniel Missin (5-5) Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Aaron Aby def. Danny Missin via Unanimous Decision 
  • Aaron Robinson (9-2) vs. Cheya Saleem (12-3) Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Cheya Saleem def. Aaron Robinson via SUB (Guillotine Choke) Round 1 – 0:48
  • Danny Tombs (1-2) vs. Gavin Sterrit (6-2) Welterweight Bout
    • ResultDanny Tombs def. Gavin Sterritt via TKO (Strikes) Round 2 – 4:07
  • Adam Bramhald (2-1) vs. Luke Shanks (1-0) Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Luke Shanks def. Adam Bramhald via SUB (Guillotine Choke) Round 1 – 0:41
  • Jordan Barton (2-0) vs. Richard Herbert (2-0) Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Jordan Barton def. Richard Herbert via Split Decision.
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ACB 70 Barnett vs. Askham: Sheffield Set for A Spectacular Night

Harry Davies



Dubbed “The Battle of Britain”, English middleweights Luke Barnatt and Scott Askham will settle their long-term rivalry this weekend at ACB 70.

Just two months after their last visit, ACB returns to “The Steel City” of Sheffield to host another fantastic card. Along with a great main event, there are numerous match-ups on the fight card that promise excitement for us fight fans, MMA Latest breaks down the ones you don’t want to miss.

Aaron Aby vs. Daniel Missin 2

FCC 11. October 2014. Aby (3-1) was taking on Missin (4-3) at a bad point in “Mini Hulk’s” career. It was Missin who would go on to provide the upset in brutal fashion, finishing Aby in an ending that really should have been stopped sooner. But since then, the two men’s fight form has been greatly different.

Aby went on to win six of his next seven fights, whereas Missin has only fought three times since defeating Aby, going 1-2 in the process. Born and bred a Welshman, but currently residing in Liverpool, Aby was successful in his ACB debut in March, he also beat Sam Halliday at ACB 65 in his second fight for the promotion.

It’s all been about self-improvement for Missin. Physically, and mentally. The Yorkshireman, who will have the support of his home county at ACB 70, was battling depression and anxiety in which he stated “he was his own worst enemy” when dealing with the two.

Now that Missin has fully recovered from his mental health problems, he will hope to show off the new additions to his game in his ACB debut. September 23rd is the start of a new chapter in “Mini Hulk’s” MMA career.

Kane Mousah vs. Alex Enlund

A physically imposing fighter with that element of explosiveness about him, Kane Mousah (9-1) will make his second appearance for ACB this Saturday.

Close ties between UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Mousah can be made, both in their physicality and fighting style. Powerful in his striking and wrestling, Mousah’s huge slams and heavy ground and pound will make for a fascinating clash of styles when he faces the submission specialist Enlund.

Credit: ACB – Bryan Lacey

What a tear Enlund has been on. Unbeaten since 2013, the South Shields fighter is on a seven-fight winning streak, sixth of which came by finish.

Enlund, who has been out of action for over a year now, was set to make his UFC debut last year in Hamburg, but an injury forced him to withdraw from the bout. Now that he is making his debut for ACB this weekend, Enlund will hope to pick up where he left off, with another first round finish.

Of Course, The Main Event

How could I make a “Fights to Watch” list and not include this matchup on it? Luke Barnatt vs. Scott Askham is a fight between the two best English middleweights in MMA, and to say its been long-awaited is an understatement.

This is a rivalry that dates backs to 2011, with Barnatt and Askham each taking their turns of calling each other out over the years. They both spent a few years in the UFC, and when they first stepped inside an ACB cage together, it almost very quickly came to blows.

Don’t let the Bellator card this weekend overshadow things, because ACB 70 is by far worth the watch as well. Airing live and free on Box Nation and FITE TV at 18:00 BST , it’s a card you don’t want to miss this Saturday, the 23rd of September.

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