Yaroslav Amosov became the first Ukrainian to capture a major world title in MMA when he dethroned three-time Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima at Bellator 260 earlier this month. The 27-year-old was already drawing comparisons to retired UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov due to his background in Sambo as well as his undefeated record. But now Bellator’s newest star has promotional gold to go along with those other attributes, and it means many pundits are starting to believe “Dynamo” is headed to the same place Russia’s Nurmagomedov was before he retired from MMA: the top of the sport.
You can watch Amosov’s chat with Heavy below.
Amosov revealed to Heavy his thoughts about being compared to Nurmagomedov.
“Of course, this comparison, it pleases me, because Khabib is a champion, and he’s proven time and again that he is a worthy fighter. But I must say that Khabib is Khabib and I’m Yaroslav,” Amosov said via his translator.
While Bellator’s newest champion did replace Nurmagomedov as the MMA fighter with the longest undefeated streak among all major MMA promotions, the 26-0 champion isn’t quite sure the comparisons are all that apt.
“I’m Yaroslav Amosov and we’re in fact very different. We have a different weight category. We have a different organization. I would even say that we are quite different in style. Of course, Khabib is of a different culture, he lives in a different country. So, although as pleasant as [the comparison] is, I think we’re quite different,” Amosov said.
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Amosov Dominated Lima at Bellator 260
Differences notwithstanding, Amosov did dominate his last opponent Lima across all five rounds of the fight to capture Bellator gold in a dominant fashion.
They might come from different cultures and countries, but dominating a world-class opponent in a fight for the belt is exactly the same kind of thing Nurmagomedov did in his career.
To his credit, Amosov said his fight against Lima only appeared to be easy. He might have won virtually every round of the fight, but Amosov knew he had to ply his trade carefully against the always dangerous Brazilian.
“I wouldn’t say it was as easy as it looked because my opponent was a very dangerous guy, in fact, so I had to keep my focus at all times. I know that he has tremendous knockout power, so…I was on my lookout at all times,” Amosov said.
Still, the new champ admitted the hardest part of his title-grabbing coup was what happened during training camp.
“I would say that the fight itself wasn’t as hard as the training and the preparation for the fight, because the fight only lasts 30 minutes, and the preparation is two to three months minimum,” Amosov said.
So Amosov might not see all the comparisons to Khabib as valid, but he’s still doing all the most important things exactly right.
Hundreds of Fans Greeted Amosov at Airport
Amosov was greeted by hundreds of fans when he returned from his title-grabbing win. The MMA star is his country’s first MMA world champion, and he hopes to help start the same kind of tradition in MMA that already exists in his country in boxing.
The current crop of boxing superstars from his country includes Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko. Recent history produced the likes of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, brothers that each became heavyweight champ.
Judging by how many people came to receive him at the airport, Amosov is already on the way there.
“It was amazing because I didn’t really expect so many people to come to meet me at the airport. There were fans. There were reporters and journalists. There was Parimatch with this amazing gift that was made. What can I say? It feels awesome, and I’m really proud and I’m really, really hopeful that this victory can inspire people who are following at home,” Amosov said.
Parimatch’s gift to Amosov was a branded motorcycle for the champ emblazoned with his pristine MMA record “26-0” and the word “champion”.
What About UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman?
As for what his future holds, Amosov wants to keep plying his trade as Bellator champion. While he knows life outside the UFC will always leave people wondering how he would fare against the likes of UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and others, Amosov wasn’t all that interested in talking about the cross-promotional superfight between champs when asked how he thinks Amosov vs. Usman might go.
“Well, I think, first of all, I have a contract with Bellator, which I’m committed to, so just contract-wise, such a fight would be impossible as of this moment. I am definitely not looking to jump ship anytime soon before my contract is over,” Amosov said.
He wouldn’t budge on far off future plans either.
“I got a contract, and I’m definitely going to honor it for its entirety. Whenever that expires, I might think about something, but until then…I’m not thinking about anything else, including not about UFC,” Amosov said.
But if the fight ever could happen? Amosov wouldn’t explicitly say it, but he seems to believe he would walk out of the cage with his unblemished record still intact.
“But theoretically, I think that would [be] quite a fight. I’m not a tell guy. I’m a show guy, so I have an idea how the fight would go. But I’m not here to talk at length about how it would go. I would actually rather go into the cage and show by action. Like I said, I’m not a tell guy. I’m a show guy,” Amosov said.
Judging by how he’s fared so far in his MMA career, it would be hard to argue with him.
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