European Evaluations – Georgians dominate the global scene (September 1st to 7th)

Murad Abdulaev (right) celebrates his title win in ACA. Credit: ACA.

Although not the busiest week in European MMA, American promotions Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) and Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) both featured a man from European soil in their main events.

The week saw Russian powerhouse Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) deliver a stacked card, there was a surprisingly clinical performance from the usually lower-level Belarus Fighting Championships, and the week’s crown jewel was Elite MMA Championship (EMC) bursting onto the scene with a card rammed top to bottom with European talent.

In this article, MMA-Prospects will take a look at a few of the best performances of the week from some of the biggest prospects and unknown quantities throughout the continent.

Zviad Lazishvili (def. Ricky Steele) – LFA 90

The Georgian, Zviad Lazishvili (13-0) picked up a huge win over a fellow undefeated fighter to get his hands on the coveted LFA bantamweight championship at LFA 90.

While Steele (6-1) appeared fast and mobile early, he was trying to clinch on his way out, and seconds into the fight, Lazishvili had his man pinned against the cage. After a brief exchange of knees, Zviad landed a pair of takedowns and took the back as Steele tried to regain his base. From there, the Georgian stayed cool, calm, and collected, sinking in the finishing choke soon after.

None of Lazishvili’s first 10 opponents have a single fight recorded, so now that he’s an LFA champion with back to back wins over experienced foes in Josh Huber (24-11) and Ricky Steele, it’s quite the turnaround for his career trajectory. With a perfect record and an LFA strap etched across his shoulder, you have to imagine the UFC will be knocking at his door sooner rather than later.

Melsik Baghdasaryan (def. Dennis Buzukja) – DWCS Week 5

Glendale, California, is becoming somewhat of an Armenian hub for MMA fighters, and the latest product to prove the rule is Melsik Baghdasaryan (5-1). Somewhat surprisingly, Baghdasaryan was placed in this main event of Dana White’s Contender Series, competing for a UFC contract.

Baghdasaryan came out looking like a bonafide superstar. Each strike faster and sharper than the last, Baghdasaryan was able to land both strikes at range and with brutal elbows in the clinch. After the initial five minutes, it seemed like a no brainer that UFC was picking up another European featherweight.

Unfortunately, after the first round, Baghdasaryan was a little bit slower and took a more measured approach to secure the win. His opponent, Dennis Buzukja (4-2), proved to be an extremely tough fighter and his experience training with the high-level of teammates at Matt Serra’s and Ray Longo’s Long Island gym saw him reach the final bell. Nonetheless, it was an impressive performance from the Armenian and although Dana White wasn’t convinced enough to offer him an immediate UFC contract, Baghdasaryan is invited back to compete on the show once again.

Badmatsyren Dorzhiev (def. Oleg Lichkovakha) – BFC 60

When one sees a fighter with just three fights compete for a championship belt, usually, one starts to judge the depth of the division. However, Badmatsyren Dorzhiev (4-0) stepped into this title fight against the 13-3 Oleg Lichkovakha, a Russian on a six-fight win streak that included five wins by stoppage.

Despite his short career in MMA, Dorzhiev is as relaxed as any veteran, displaying top-notch capabilities all across the board. In this fight he used his height and pressure to back his opponent up against the fence, utilizing a diverse kicking game to maintain the distance. When he decided to mix it up, Dorzhiev would take the fight to the floor easily, and if Lichkovakha shot in to change the momentum of the fight, he’d find himself easily swept with Badmatsyren controlling the top position.

Following a brutal fourth round which saw Dorzhiev brutalize his opponent with punishing ground and pound, Lichkovakha was unable to even make it to his feet to return to his corner. With no other option, the referee calls a halt to the contest with Batmatsyren picking up his first championship belt after just four professional fights.

Murad Abdulaev (def. Ali Bagov) – ACA 110

In April 2019, Murad Abdulaev (20-7) competed for the ACA welterweight title against UFC veteran Albert Tumenov (21-4), losing out by unanimous decision. Following Tumenov’s decision to test free agency at the end of his contract, Murad was once again scheduled to fight for the belt, this time against longtime ACA favorite Ali Bagov (29-10). At 30 years old and with 26 professional fights, it was time for Abdulaev to make something big happen, and this was the perfect opportunity.

For the first two rounds of the contest, Abdulaev found himself fighting off of his back as a relentless Ali Bagov dominated on the ground. However, with the start of round three, Abdulaev knew it was time to turn the tide and came out swinging with some damaging punches. Bagov desperately shot for a takedown, only to get swept and end up on the bottom. With Abdulaev poised to return the favor of those initial two stanzas, two rounds of vicious ground and pound followed. Bagov would manage to bounce back in the final round, making it quite surprising that the judges decided to place the strap on Abdulaev’s shoulder.

While the decision was debatable, to say the least, Abdulaev came out with a massive victory in a fight where he showed a ton of heart to come out strong in those middle rounds after a horrible start to the night. Abdulaev has now positioned himself to get another huge fight in his first title defense, and good things may be on the horizon for the Russian champ.

Amiran Gogoladze (def. Pavel Kusch) – EMC 5

Unlike the other fights, Georgia’s Amiran Gogoladze (11-1) didn’t give us a lot to talk about in this contest. On this standout EMC card, it was the Georgian who managed to steal the show with a spectacular first-round knockout.

The opponent, Pavel Kusch (23-8), came into the contest with 30 professional fights under his belt, almost triple the experience of the 22-year-old Gogoladze. Not looking to let Kusch use this experience edge, Gogoladze came out showing extreme urgency, landing some shots with his hands before a razor-close flying knee grazed the hairline of Pavel Kusch.

Some would look at that knee as a missed opportunity, but Amiran noticed how close it was to landing. Within the next 30 seconds, he landed two straight knees, the second of which staggered his opponent, allowing him to follow up punches and secure a brutal KO after just 53 seconds of fighting.

To make this sort of statement on a card that featured popular fighters such as Ismail Naurdiev (20-4), Satoshi Ishii (23-12-1), Stuart Austin (15-6), and Erko Jun (3-2), a stunning knockout victory is just what the doctor ordered for our second Georgian standout of the week.

It’s unclear what’s next for Amiran Gogoladze, and he may have to settle down a little bit in some of his future contests, but with a 4-0 record in M-1 Challenge and now a 2-0 stint in EMC, it’s safe to say that big things are coming his way in the very near future.

Make sure to stay tuned to the European Evaluation series here on next week, as we have a stacked line up ahead featuring fighters from Fight Nights Global, M-1 Challenge, ONE Championship, WWFC, Fight Nation Championship, and other promotions.