European Evaluations – A Nurmagomedov wins again, Mineev shines (September 8th to 14th)

Vladmir Mineev (second left) stands alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) ahead of his title fight with Dauren Ermekov (second right). Credit: FNG-GFC.

Although most weeks in European MMA have moved forward at a riproaring pace, fans witnesses a more relaxed seven days last week, with the lightlight being the Fight Night Global (FNG) and Guerilla Fighting Championship (GFC) hosting a joint show in honour of the late, great Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

Euro MMA watchers saw Fight World Tour in Spain fall apart at the last minute due to COVID-19 restrictions and M-1 Challenge and World Warriors Fighting Championship (WWFC) limping forward with low talent cards; fans didn’t get a massive amount of quality contests this week.

Vladimir Mineev (def. Dauren Ermekov) – FNG/GFC Abdoulmanap Nurmagomedov Memorial

Five-time kickboxing world champion Vladimir Mineev (15-1-1) carries an impressive reputation on his shoulders regardless of his opponent, and from this performance, it was easy to see why. Competing against the newly crowned GFC interim middleweight champion, Dauren Ermekov (15-4), longtime Fight Nights Global figurehead Vladimir Mineev got his first crack at middleweight gold.

Mineev had a very cerebral approach to the first round, standing very still and looking for counter punches as Ermekov lunged in. The GFC champion would avoid getting tagged too much in this round and was cautious in his attacks, but Mineev managed to break the stalemate by landing multiple low kicks throughout the round.

The pace rose as each round passed, with Mineev shucking off every Eremkov takedown attempt, landing brutal body shots against the fence, and punishing his opponent with leg kicks. The body work paid off in the third when a tough Ermekov was doubling over, refusing to go down, and the referee rightfully saved him from further punishment.

It was an extremely impressive performance from Mineev, who took perhaps one punch throughout the entire contest. With the ability to strongly defend takedowns, demand control in the clinch, and qualify all of this with his world-caliber kickboxing, there are calls for Mineev to take a leap toward bigger promotions in the near future. A blockbuster rematch with Magomed Ismailov (13-3) could be waiting in the wings too as the judges couldn’t split them in their previous meeting. For now, all we know is that Vladimir Mineev is the new Fight Nights Global middleweight champion. 

Patryk Kaczmarczyk (def. Adrian Kepa) – Armia Fight Night 8

Who wants a championship belt when you can win walk out of the arena with a massive sword? At Armia Fight Night 8, Patryk Kaczmarczyk (5-0) and Adrian Kepa (7-4) competed for the championship sabre, with the former walking out the winner.

22-year-old Patryk looked good all across the board. His takedown defence held up well, he was able to scramble out of bad positions easily, and his kickboxing managed to keep Kepa at bay for the majority of the fight.

Kepa played his part in the fight, but his traditional head-down, swing-overhangs, look-for-the-takedown style was a bit too predictable for Patryk, who managed to win the fight no matter where it went.

It was an impressive performance for the undefeated Pole, who boasts an incredible 21-6 amateur record. Fighting mostly in Armia and Babilon as a pro, Patryk will be looking to fight on one of the bigger promotions soon with Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW), Absolute Championship Ahkmat (ACA) and BRAVE CF all active throughout Poland.

Usman Nurmagomedov (def. Svyatoslav Shabanov) – FNG/GFC Abdoulmanap Nurmagomedov Memorial

There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders when you carry a weighted name in mixed martial arts, but such burdens only intensify when the event you are competing at is designed to memorialize your uncle, who recently passed away. Usman Nurmagomedov (11-0) takes pride in being ‘Khabib’s Cousin,’ but he’s also doing whatever he can to establish his own legacy.

Challenging Usman’s record was an experienced veteran in Svyatoslav Shabanov (18-10-1), a Russian who has shared the cage with many familiar faces around the Russian scene.

Newcomers to watching Usman will quickly recognize that he doesn’t fight like his entirely wrestling-based cousin. Nurmagomedov is younger, so he’s yet to develop the same level of physicality, but he makes up for this with a very strong kicking game. He’s much looser than Khabib, keeping the distance well with his kicks and using his strong grappling skills to add depth to his arsenal. The distance of his takedowns make him a little bit more predictable, but his superb chain wrestling allows him to flow between attempts until he ultimately has his man down.

A clinical performance from Nurmagomedov ended with a referee stoppage due to ground and pound strikes, advancing the Russian to 11-0. With his recent career mostly playing out in either GFC or UAE Warriors, you’d have to imagine a switch to USA is on the cards. I’d imagine Nurmagomedov would already been competing in Professional Fighters League (PFL) had the pandemic not occurred, and both Bellator and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have to have had their heads turned by the rising star.

Next week will be action packed with events from ACA, BRAVE, Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC), Fight Nights Global, Belarus Fighting Championship (BFC), German MMA Championship (GMC) and Evolution of Combat.

MMA-Prospects will be on the lookout for fighters such as Abdul Aziz Abdulvakhabov (17-2), Alexander Sarnavskiy (37-7), Yusup Raisov (16-1), Oleg Popov (7-1), Ramazan Kuramagomedov (7-0) and Ikram Aliskerov (9-1) as the Russians surge forward full throttle. Make sure to keep up to date will all the action at MMA Prospects.