Russians and Mixed Martial Arts
Russians and Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts
times by now I have been asked the same question: Why are there so few Russian
fighters in MMA? And every time I had to answer that it’s a very long
conversation and that it would take me a while to
explain so that my opponent would get a clear picture of the situation. And
indeed this is a long story and I feel that the time has come when I finally
should reveal the whole misterious foggy spirit around this topic, since nobody
yet has done it before me.
We all know
that MMA is realatively new sport. It had gained a huge popularity in Japan,
USA and finally in Europe. As we may easily notice it was successfull mostly in
well-developed countries. But what about non-developed or poorly-developed
ones? Have you ever seen an MMA fighter from Bulgaria? Romania? Uzbekistan?
Iraq? Well, maybe, but they are so few that we can not even remember their
names. The reason why there is no MMA fighters from non-developed countries is
well known and needs no explanation: a poor standard of living. When it is hard
to feed yourself you wont even think about participating in any fighting event.
Unfortuanately this issue also refers to almost all of the ex-Soviet group.
what makes any sport survive. One of the main reasons MMA didn’t get the same
popularity in Soviet block as in the other countries is definitely a lack of
media coverage. Media cannot broadcast something that is unknown to the mass.
Or at least they could do it only if there was a potential to raise up the
popularity and make money out of it. Something that Russian media never does.
As far as it is not practiced, that may only mean that there is no point for
them to introduce this kind of sport to the Russian mass since it won’t be
profitable enough. This fact by itself means a lot - people in Russia are not
yet ready for this. This may also take some time. On the other hand martial
arts always existed in Russia, even in Soviet socialism period. And the final
summary? People there deal with much more important things. To explain that,
we should refer to Maslow (a well-known American economist) and his „Needs“. As
we know people all over the world (not only Russians) at first satisfy their
Basic Needs (that would be food, place to stay, basic clothes, safety, etc) and
only after succeeding in that they move futher to Social needs (and that would
be mostly communication and dealing with other people and entertainment). After
these Social Needs follow another 3 categories which we are less of concern to
on our issue one might ask what is MMA? Namely it is a show and as far as it is
considered as entertaiment it is definitely in the Social Needs part. We
may easily guess that as fast as people cannot satisfy their Basic Needs they
can not move to Social ones. This is what happening in Russia and all of the
other non-developed or poorly-developed economically countries. As I mentioned
before, the living standards in ex-Soviet countries are lower than in European
countries. Therefore, people think about increasing their budget rather than
participating in any Martial Art event and I am not even referring to MMA,
which is well-known but yet not popular at all.
very interesting factor that should be mentioned is a wrong or misconcieved
translation. Usually a phrase „Mixed Martial Arts“ is translated to Russian as
„No Rules Fighting“. And as we all know Russia (and the other republics of the
USSR off course) had suffered a very long period of time under a Socialism
system which itself is a very conservative system. Full of strict rules,
illogical and totally useless laws which sometimes were harmful to the people.
From the very beginning of your life you had not just to follow those silly
rules but even had to contribute somehow to the development of the Soviet
Socialism Disaster. That’s how peope lived and continue to live even now no
matter if things had changed a long time ago (15 years I consider enough to
change you views). But on the other hand we have no right to criticise those
people because when you are born and raised up in these circumstances it is
difficult or even impossible to change anything. So when it comes to „No Rules
Fighting“ the usual reaction would be at first a deep tourturing thinking then
a few cautious steps back and finally a runaway in full and complete ignorance
(metaphorically off course).
were always linked with outlaws and criminals in the early post USSR period and
this tradition is still kept even today. So when people hear a phrase “Mixed
Martial Arts” automatically they would associate Martial Arts to criminality.
They may ask what it consists in since this phrase is not frequently used. When
they hear the explanation: No Rules Fighting, they just run away. That is the
mentality, that is what our brilliant system did to us. People think that if I
practice any martial art that means that I am most probably a criminal, that is
the usual logic people follow.
must say that MMA always existed in USSR and Russia. Apart from some
traditional village-on-village fighting or some other ancient fighting
festivals that are held mostly in villages and which may look like western MMA
but in a more raw version, there were a real NO RULES FIGHTING in
Soviet period (in the middle 80’s to be more particular), which as you might
guess were illegal and therefore were organized in deep underground. Not
because people were not interested but mostly because of brutality and lack of
civilized rules (what was civilized in USSR anyway?). Fighters used to fight
without any protection and sometimes even to death. As usual those events were
organized by criminals. Eventually, the bloody and brutal tournaments
disappeared. Maybe people got smarter, now they do not get disabled in the ring.
One may also assume that the government improved, who knows, but even though
criminals never lost their interest in MMA (NRF). Nowadays they just switched
the bloody and illegal No Rules Fighting of the Soviet period into legal and
very profitable Mixed Martial Arts tournaments in the Modern Democratic Russia.
They might have lost the best part of entertainment – Hardcore beatings, but
evolved it to a much more better thing: profit. They’ve created a highly
profitable monopoly business. I should say that mostly all of the present MMA
tournaments that are held today in Russia are usually organized by criminals or
at least with their useful cooperation. People know it and that’s another
reason they try to avoid it. It refers to fighters as well, once you got into
this stuff you will never get out. Who needs such a challenges in his life? Not
many I guess. Nevertheless, we have to pay a tribute to these criminals for
developing this sport in our countries. If not them – MMA would still have been
in the underground. But now, thanks to them, it eventually gains more and more
At this point
I have to say that fighting sports and martial arts in general were and are
highly developed and ranked all over the ex-USSR countries. There are hundreds
examples: in boxing: Klitchko brothers, Kostya Tzyu; in wrestling – Alexander
Karelin; in MMA – Fjodor Emelianenko and this list may be continued for a long
time. Martial arts separately were always developed in Russia and USSR but
unfortunately they never united like they did abroad. We have a great stand-up
fighters, great wrestlers, grapplers but we do not have well-rounded MMA
fighters. Actually, I do not think that it is a problem. It would be enough to
look at the most popular versions of MMA tournaments: the Japanese PRIDE and
the American UFC: both are dominated by Slavs from former USSR countries –
Russian Fjodor Emelianenko and Belorussian Andrei Arlovski. Some other great
Russian fighters (like A. Emelianenko, S. Kharitonov and others) participate in
those events but did not get on the top yet. I will emphasize it again – it is
not a problem. Their presence makes a lot of other fighters be frightened… Not
quantity but quality – that is our motto. We had a huge experience in other
Martial Arts and almost none in MMA. As soon as we, Russians, learn how to
unite our Martial Arts and share our experience we will present much more
fighters who will definitely succeed just like other Russian fighters in all of
the other fighting sports! MMA will not be an exception! Long Live Russia!