In this series of articles I’m going to be highlighting fighters I think have some early potential and could possibly end up in one of the top organisations in the not too distant future. Not quite prospects just yet but definitely worth keeping an eye on. Just to clarify I see a prospect as a fighter with a good record, good all round skills with fights in mid to large size organisations that are pretty much ready for the UFC or Bellator to pick straight up. I see Ones To Watch as guys who have a lot of potential but are still fighting at lower level organisations and not quite ready for the step up just yet.
With the UFC snapping up talent relentlessly people may think that there isn’t much left out there at the minute. Truth is fighters around the globe are being molded into killers on the daily. America, Canada and Brazil account for much of the UFC roster nowadays but there are some very strong fighters coming from Europe recently. Countries Like Sweden, Russia, Poland and Ireland have been filtering fighters into the UFC slowly but surely to the point where you can look at the rankings of some of the divisions and you will probably see a Russian, Swede or an Irish man hovering near the top.
The fighter we will be focusing on in this article is Russian Heavyweight Zelimkhan Umiev.
Umiev (Far Left) Collecting 2nd place at 2014 European Combat Sambo Championships
Pro MMA Record: 5-0
Gym: Fight Club Berkut
Fighting out of: Grozny, Russia
Promotion Fighting For: Absolute Championship Berkut
Notable Wins: None as of yet but he has had a couple of decent mid level opponents
Zelimkhan Umiev is a Heavyweight Combat Sambo fighter that has made the transition over to MMA within the last 10 months. In that time he has racked up an impressive 5-0 record against mid to low level opposition in Russian promotion Absolute Championship Berkut. ACB is a well respected promotion in the region, some way of M1 Global but one of the better smaller organisations in Russia, probably comparable to the Fight Nights promotion which is home to top European prospects Mikhail Mokhnatkin, Abdulkerim Edilov and Marif Piraev .
Umiev trains at Fight Club Berkut in Grozny, Russia, which is home to some very good talent. The likes of UFC Heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov, M1 fighter and touted prospect Musa Khamanaev and recent winner over Cody McKenzie at M1, Beslan Isaev. Umiev has a similar frame to that of Magomedov and you can tell that training with Magomedov has had a positive influence on the way Umiev fights. Umiev is a rangy southpaw and he favours using the kicking game in the stand up, much the same as Magomedov. His left body kick certainly looks to have some pop on it. I’ll be honest, in his stand up I saw some small similarities to an early Mirko Crocop, Not to say Umiev is at the level Crocop was back then or even has the same potential , just small similarities. In regards to Umievs boxing, he has good length on his punches but he does tend to get a little wild. He will have to sharpen up on that at some point or he will risk being countered when he fights higher level strikers.
Coming from a strong Combat Sambo background – Umiev finished in 2nd place at the Euro Combat Sambo Championships in 2014 to Bulgarian Judoka Martin Marinkov- Umiev looks pretty comfortable when in the clinch and in top position, In his last fight he did have some pacing issues when he couldn’t get the early finish but in the end he powered through and got a pretty dominant win over Jacek Czajczynski, who in truth has been extremely hard to finish as of late.
With 5 fights under his belt in just under a year if he keeps that pace up by the end of 2015 he could be sitting in an enviable position with 10 wins under his belt and contract offers flooding in. I could definitely see M1 snapping him up before the year is out and possibly even Bellator. Only time will tell but if he keeps progressing at the rate he is my guess is he will be fighting in a large promotion at some point within the next 12-18 months.
One To Watch: Zelimkhan Umiev
Watch Umiev dismantle Nikolay Sidlenkov here
Watch Umiev beatdown Alexander Stolyarov here
Watch Umiev put a hurting on Jacek Czajczynski here
Written by Ryan Thomas MMA enthusiast/predictor/gambler and writer
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @ILoveMMA
ADD ME ON FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/ultimately.mma