Octagon Oracles: Viacheslav Borshchev

Timo Prinz

Grade: B

Viacheslav Borshchev makes his UFC debut on Saturday against Dakota Bush.

Borshchev comes off a stunning KO victory over Chris Duncan on the Contender Series in October. He is 5-1 as a Mixed Martial Arts professional.

Prior to his MMA career, Borshchev was the captain of the Russian kickboxing team for some point in time, as he holds an impressive 18-2 professional kickboxing record along with a 2-0 mark in pro boxing. “Slava” Borshchev is a striking specialist.

In 2017, he aligned with Team Alpha Male, a great gym that is known for strong wrestling.

After earning a quick knockout victory in his pro debut, Borshchev signed a deal with one of the best US regional promotions in the LFA.

His debut for the LFA was a great perfomance, winning a unanimous decision over a good prospect in Ali Zebian. In his second appearance for the LFA, he lost a very close fight by split decision to another great prospect in William Starks.

In 2021, Borshchev picked up two stoppage victories in the Titan FC promotion. This set up the opportunity for Borshchev to fight on the Contender Series in October against highly-touted prospect Chris Duncan. As mentioned above, Borshchev knocked him out in vicious fashion, earning him a contract with the UFC.

On Saturday, he will face fellow LFA veteran Dakota Bush.

Bush lost his UFC debut against Austin Hubbard, taking that fight on just one week notice. Bush got controlled on the ground in rounds 2 and 3, after a close first round. If Bush decides to stand and trade with Borshchev, he will most likely get knocked out. Bush will have to test the grappling of Borshchev, if he wants to win this fight.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Drew Beaupre

Grade: B-

Viacheslav Borshchev will make his UFC debut on Saturday night and try to capitalize on the hype from his KO victory on Dana White’s Contender Series in October.
The Russian kickboxer is 5-1 in an MMA career that only started in 2019, but has earned four stoppage wins during that time. The lone loss on his record was a close split decision against William Starks, who was able to us his wrestling to control Borshchev enough to earn the win on two judge’s scorecards.


While his grappling may be a notable weakness, “Slava Claus” is a dangerous fighter anytime the fight is standing. He’ll attack his opponent’s lead leg from the opening bell as well as mix in front kicks to their midsection while at range, and once things get close he’ll throw hard hooks to both the head and body. His left hook earned him a place in the UFC when he finished Chris Duncan on Contender Series, and the Russian is happy to throw it from orthodox stance or switch to southpaw during exchanges in order to load it up.


When Borshchev has looked good during his MMA career he’s been dominant; he made short work of Corey Dulaney at Titan FC 68 when Dulaney tried too hard to chase takedowns and the Russian absolutely battered him for it. Opponents that can successfully take him down have been more troubling however, as displayed in his loss to William Starks and in the first round of his Contender Series fight with Chris Duncan.


I think “Slava Claus” could easily become a fan favorite with his personality and fighting style, but I think his overall potential in a division as deep as lightweight is a bit limited. He’s training at Team Alpha Male which is stacked with good wrestlers, but at thirty years old I’m not sure how quickly he’ll be able to apply everything he’s learning in order to get past the better grapplers in the division


Dakota Bush is a decent first test for him because he does have four rear-naked choke victories on his record, but against Austin Hubbard he also displayed a tendency to throw wild right hands that a striker like Borshchev will likely make him pay for. I can see the UFC brass picking his opponents carefully early on in order to capitalize on his personality, so we’ll likely get to see a few impressive striking performances and finishes during his time in the promotion.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner

Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

James Colwell:

Grade: B-

Borshchev is a somewhat unknown commodity who filled in on Dana White’s Contender Series as a last-minute replacement against undefeated Scottish fighter Chris Duncan (7-0). The man known as “Slava Claus” was a pretty heavy underdog since he was just 4-1 and had only fought other fighters early in their careers (4 wins against 0-0, 4-1, 2-2, and 3-3 records, while his loss came by split decision against strong prospect William Starks, who was 3-1 at the time.)

3 of those wins came by knockout and Borshchev has extensive experience in kickboxing and Muay Thai, so his striking is clearly the strong point of his MMA game. That was reinforced in his DWCS win, as he caught his opponent with a accurate and powerful left hook early in the 2nd round and left him unconscious before he even hit the ground. His jab is snappy and he does a good job keeping it in his opponents’ faces to disrupt their rhythm and fill any empty spaces in exchanges on the feet. Borshchev’s kicks are also a dangerous weapon, as he throws without an obvious wind-up and can attack unexpectedly with either leg to damage any part of the body.

The biggest concern I have about Slava is his grappling, as his loss to Starks showed that he is vulnerable to getting controlled by high-level wrestlers. While he managed to beat Duncan, his grappling was still clearly several levels below his striking in both technique and comfort. He got taken down relatively easily and didn’t show great body positioning while trying to remain upright, but at least he managed to get up relatively quickly every time, which is a positive development in less than a year’s time since the Starks loss. While Borshchev is relatively old for his lack of experience at 30, he’s only been competing in MMA for about 2.5 years and clearly isn’t a fully finished product. He trains with Team Alpha Male, which is an ideal camp to help bring his jiu-jitsu and wrestling skills up to the level he’ll need if he wants to have UFC success.

His post-victory traditional Russian dances and Slava Claus persona should make him memorable for the average viewer, and he proved to be very funny and engaging in his interviews on DWCS. That should be enough to encourage the UFC to try to build him up, and they’ve given him a winnable matchup in his debut against Dakota Bush (8-3, 0-1 UFC), who doesn’t have nearly the same striking sophistication and will give Borshchev a chance for a KO win. However, Bush is a strong wrestler and dangerous submission threat who will provide a good test of how much continued improvement Borshchev has accomplished in the last 3 months. I’m currently predicting a round one KO for Slava and I think he could stick around the middle of the lightweight division for a while with some careful matchmaking, but the combination of his age and inexperience in grappling puts a cap on his long-term potential.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner

Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion