It's been a good year for Russian MMA. Russia has always been one of the more underrated martial arts nations, with the notable exception of the great Last Emperor Fedor Emelianenko, but all of a sudden there are a lot of guys to be excited about.
Bellator is bursting at the seams with Russian talent, with names like Alexander Shlemenko, Alexander Volkov and Andrey Koreshkov all riding high, just to name a few.
The UFC, however, is catching up.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is 21-0 and 5-0 in the UFC and finally getting recognition for being one of the best grapplers in the sport. He's not far from a title shot.
Rustam Khabilov is 2-0 in the promotion and is fixing for a major jump in competition against Jorge Masvidal in a few weeks, a fight in which he'll serve to be a very live dog come betting time.
And now, Adlan Amagov, a former middleweight Strikeforce brawler-turned-UFC welterweight dark horse, is turning some heads. With his violent knockout of TJ Waldburger at UFC 166, people are taking notice.
The win, set up with short punches from the clinch that are rarely powerful when thrown by most men, sent Waldburger from the cage on a stretcher while Amagov celebrated moving to 2-0 in the UFC and 13-2-1 overall.
He lost his first-ever fight in Russia as a light heavyweight, fought to a draw with current Bellator light heavyweight champion Attila Vegh in 2010 and lost to Robbie Lawler in his first appearance on a big Strikeforce card.
Everyone else, he's victimized.
Eight of his 13 wins now have come by knockout, and he's entering the prime of his career. Gifted with scary natural flexibility and athleticism, as well as the frightfully stoic fighting demeanor of the many great countrymen who've come before him, it's clear he's a guy to watch going forward.
Who is the best Russian in the UFC?
The variety of his strikes coupled with the power he generates and the technical capacity that's been evident in his early UFC appearances suggests a man who has finally found a home.
TJ Grant dropped a weight class and went from also-ran to world-beater, and Amagov has the same feel. He's the same blend of bullish stand-up and unheralded grappling skill, but with the added bonus of training at one of the best gyms in the world under Greg Jackson—something Grant hasn't had to this point.
We all saw how far Grant rode a change on the scales over the past year or so, and it's not hard to envision Amagov taking a similar path based on his early showings at 170.
Like the greats that came before him—Taktarov, the Emelianenkos, Kharitonov—and those mentioned that he presently shares the spotlight with, Adlan Amagov is showing that Russian MMA is serious business.
And business is seriously booming.