''Thanks, Kazan, I love you, baby'': it wasn’t our day

First M-1 Global Fight took place in the capital of Tatarstan

''Thanks, Kazan, I love you, baby'': it wasn’t our day Photo: Maksim Platonov

MMA-1 fights are one of the few sports that Kazan has not tasted enough. Probably this is why international M-1 Global Fight competition became a good advertisement for Kazan sports fans – Basket Hall gathered quite a big audience on Saturday evening. Realnoe Vremya's correspondent tells about the first top M-1fights in Tatarstan and why local fighters need to improve a lot to reach the international stage.

Tatarstan decided to ''improve'' MMA

MMA fights continue gaining in popularity in Russia and Tatarstan with the intensity that Europe had some ten years ago. Today it is really rumoured about the inclusion of MMA fights in the number of Olympic sports. Although we need to note, to be fair, that it is not an authoritative indicator when golf and baseball are in the current Olympic Games programme.

Like in many other trendy ''new'' sports in the West, Russia is about to really acquaint with the scale of popularity of MMA fights in Europe and America. Unfortunately, in this respect, Tatarstan is far from being a leader even at the level of Russian MMA. Kazan, of course, has fighting clubs and even an entire Tatfight league. However, the movement is nothing but amateur tournaments in mixed fights of not the highest class.

The organisers brought big international ММА-1 Challenge 83 Tatfight 5, so that the local audience would evaluate the fights of a higher level

Enough organisational work

In fact, this is why the organisers brought big international ММА-1 Challenge 83 Tatfight 5, so that the local audience would evaluate the fights of a higher level and test and check local fighters during the competition.

It seems that they brought quite a good competition. But the organisational level was bad in everything. Even the work of the media was not organised at all. The journalists had to stay in a big queue with different guests at the entrance through Basket Hall's small hall. At the entrance, in the lobby without lighting, a volunteer tried to find a correspondent's name in his confused lists and then stuck a paper bracelet that is put at nightclubs on his hand. Nobody could even think of a place designed for the media in the stands.

We could only hope that at least the local fighters would not disappoint. Kirill Kuzmin from Bars Profi and Ruslan Khisamutdinov from Divizion were in the hexagonal ring among Tatarstan guys. The first one tested himself in a fight against Ukrainian Vadim Shabdash who obviously looked stronger and won by points thanks to his experience, so to speak. In an evener and unclearer fight, Khisamutdinov lost to Alik Albagachiev from Ingushetia. Though he was defeating the opponent by chokeholds in the beginning. ''Keep your legs together!'' he was advised from the first rows. ''Don't forget your safety belt,'' people shouted from the stands. However, at the end of the fight, Albagachiev gripped the Tatarstan fighter and did not let him go anymore.

Unfortunately, all the Tatarstan fighters lost their fights. But they all fought till the end and lost by points to the local school's credit.

''In general, the fight was not performed completely,'' Ruslan Khisamutdinov shared with Realnoe Vremya's correspondent. ''Maybe that's why I lost. The plan was a bit different, I did not need to have fought with him for long. It was the opponent's forte. He did what he needed to do. I had chances. But my excitement probably had an impact because the audience in Kazan is familiar. I started the fight wrongly.''

''Keep your legs together!'' Ruslan was advised from the first rows. ''Don't forget your safety belt,'' people shouted from the stands

Did you hear what the audience advised?

Yes, of course. But I listened to my corner more anyway because I prepare with them, they know what I need. In general, I felt the support, of course. It helped.

Earlier you participated only in amateur mixed fights. Did you feel the difference?

Of course. And the opponent was quite serious. In general, all the atmosphere is more serious. Earlier I had fought at the local level. I have fought at the M-1 level for the first time. I became professional just recently. I will continue preparing,'' the Tatarstan fighter promised.

In the next fight already that consisted of three rounds, Viktor Kolesnik from Krasnodar who performed under a pseudonym 'Kuznya' showed how to cope with the fighter in the first round already by knocking Dutch Hooj out. There was a minimum of squeezes and wallowing on the floor but there were many excellent direct blows. Kolesnik neutralised the fighter from the Netherlands by one of such blows with punt kick.

''I was about to fall asleep in the ring''

Five fights of the major part of the programme started with a picturesque view of Kazan from helicopter and beginning of a live TV transmission to over 100 countries. Here the real fight of the evening began.

After the picturesque video where the fighters prepared for the competition amid Kazan points of interests, Luando Fernandes from Brazil and Sergey Morozov from Kazakhstan appeared for ''big'' fights. Here they could not help but have a fast knockout. The athlete from Kazakhstan needed 4,5 minutes to win the Brazilian.

In the light heavyweight category fight, US representative Nate Lander nicknamed 'Train' was to fight against Russian Mikhail Korobkov

After the fight that he won and in answer to a question of English-speaking presenters whether he did not think of surrendering because it was tough to fight in the middle of the fight, Morozon commented mockingly:

''I welcome Tatarstan! Thanks for the support and for being so many. Answering the question, I can say right now that I did not think of surrendering. Moreover, I was about to fall asleep there,'' Morozov said with a smile and caused applauses of Basket Hall.

Then probably the most extraordinary fighter of the evening appeared in the ring. In the light heavyweight category fight, US representative Nate Lander nicknamed 'Train' was to fight against Russian Mikhail Korobkov. Bright sunglasses, a challenging slow manner of entering the ring, promises to wallop the opponent in the promo video. The audience was peeved more when the fight kicked off. The stands started to shout: ''Misha! Misha!'' Successive grips in the first round continued with quite an open fight in the second round. And when it seemed that Mikhail landed two smashing blows on the American who ran away quickly somehow and made Korobkov turn away before going back and hit him in the ring with a powerful blow and later smashed him on the floor.

''I am a real man and fight till the end. I will fight till the end until I breathe, I will fight. Thanks, Russia, thanks, Kazan. I love you, baby!'' Lander shouted in his expressive manner.

It was not our evening

The Russians also lost in the next fight. It was Vladimir Kanunnikov who lost to Georgian-born Tutaruli by points. Later Aleksandr Dostalchuk from Ukraine got the champion title in the fight against Russian Vadim Malygin nicknamed 'Bad Santa'. And it worsened the spectators' mood, of course.

But only one victory could cross all the defeats of Russian fighters out – in the major and most expected fight – for the champion title in light heavyweight category – between Russian Mikhail Ragozin and American Brandon Halsey who wanted to take his revenge for a defeat from Ragozin's mentor, Aleksandr Shlemenko. But, unfortunately, the Kazan audience was disappointed at the final fight. Halsey cornered the Russian athlete from the very first seconds. However, Mikhail had the power to craftily get away and jump. He managed to hold the very American in his grip.

In the second round, Halsey had our fighter in his clutches with a comfortable chokehold. But Mikhail got away and managed to crash the opponent with a sudden series of blows. The American could do nothing but kick out while Ragozin was killing him like a bull (moreover, Halsey's nickname corresponded). Ragozin got good statistics during this round, so that he needed not to make mistakes in the third round and finish the fight. However, the American started to attack from the beginning, pinned Ragozin down and gave his good blows. The Russian did not manage to escape from the grips. And Halsey took the champion title.

The American fighter told after the fight that he really needed this victory after the defeat. He did not have to lose much weight, so he could concentrate on preparation for the fight. Halsey also said that it took some time to get used to working in this place. So he spent two rounds to get rid of the ''rust'' and could show himself in the third one.

In answer to the question how he felt after this victory, the major winner of the evening said he liked to fight in a new weight category and promised that we would see him there.

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By Erik Dobrolyubov, Photo: Maksim Platonov. Video: Kamil Ismailov