You know that new influx of Russian fighters we’re seeing in MMA? Well, it turns out… you don’t.
Ben Fowlkes of MMA Junkie caught up with Murat Keshtov, head of the K Dojo Warrior Tribe in New Jersey (the gym which houses many of these “new Russian fighters”), and Murat explained exactly why we might want to drop the “Russian Invasion” gimmick.
“I know how it is,” Keshtov told MMAjunkie. “Me, when I came here, every time I would be working somewhere, my co-workers would call me ‘The Russian guy.’ I’d say, ‘I’m not Russian!’ I’d explain to them where I was from and how it was different, and they’d listen to me. Then at the end, still, I’m the Russian guy. It made no difference.”
“[The North Caucasus region is] predominately where most of these fighters come from, probably 90 percent,” Keshtov said. “The new wave of fighters in UFC and Bellator comes from the south part of Russia, the North Caucasus. It’s kind of an autonomous state. It’s like a little country within a country, but it’s officially part of Russia.”
Now, this might seem like splitting hairs, to some. But if the UFC plans to continue its path towards “global domination”, understanding these differences is going to become more and more critical as they move forward. After all, nationality is an important part of combat sports; all you have to do is watch a single trip to Brazil for a UFC event to know that. And just as we wouldn’t start calling the Brazilian fighters “Chilean”, we should take just as much care to respect the heritage of these Dagestan, or Chechnyan, or Ossetian fighters. There might be a fan base that the UFC is alienating, without even noticing.
If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, here’s the link. It’s definitely worth a read.