Shamil Gamzatov made his UFC debut at UFC Moscow as he took Klidson Abreu, also known as The Russian Terror, to a split decision in front of his home country. Having competed in PFL, ACB, and World Series of Fighting, the Dagestani kickboxing champion has arrived in the UFC. In this interview we spoke with Gamzatov about his fight, his Russian martial arts experience and more.
Sambo, Kickboxing, and MMA
Shamil Gamzatov has been involved in martial arts since he was a child. “Since childhood, I was engaged in wrestling for a long time, then there were injuries and breaks.” At the age of eight, he hurt his knee and retired. But, Gamzatov could not stay away. He returned to combat sports at the age of 15 and began his MMA training. “[I] changed various sports and performed in them: combat sambo, grappling, amateur MMA. Then there was a transition to MMA and there was a debut and so began my career as a professional!” That professional debut was in 2012. Since then, he’s compiled a perfect 14-0 record and is in the light heavyweight division in the UFC with plenty of room to grow.
Literally everyone is on board the sambo hype train in the UFC. But it is for good reason. With Khabib Nurmagomedov being such a giant superstar now, and with fighters with insane potential like Zabit Magomedsharipov, sambo has provided a great base for many Russian MMA fighters.
“You know the sambo technique doesn’t work very badly in MMA first of all due to the fact that 50 percent of the position in MMA consists of a clinch. Sambo in this has the best arsenal with its cuts and throws from the body capture! And so on, sambo is similar to judo but in sambo there is more [of an] arsenal and plus there are punches! Look at the Russian Combat Sambo Championships and you will see why it is a good base for MMA!”
Russia is known for their wrestling and sambo. Shamil Gamzatov says it’s engrained in the culture of Russia. “Dagestan wrestlers are the best in the world, because everyone suffers from wrestling in Dagestan! Old, children, peers and adults all love wrestling and this is the number 1 sport in Dagestan!” Gamzatov does interject that another sport is on the rise in Russia. “Now MMA is also afloat with us, I think soon many more fighters from Dagestan will declare themselves!”
Shamil Gamzatov at UFC Moscow
As for his performance at UFC Moscow, Shamil Gamzatov is happy with how he fought though he knows he needs to make improvements to begin to climb up the light heavyweight ladder.
“I was pleased with the victory, but the battle went a little in tension as I injured my knee in the first round. In the future I need to work on speed, and I think everything will be fine!”
That’s a promising outlook from Gamzatov. He has good promise too. He’s finished eight of his fourteen fights, four by KO or TKO, and four by submission. Gamzatov truly takes his experience as a kickboxing, sambo and grappling champion and brings it with him into his fights.
Fighting at home is a dream of every fighter. Shamil Gamzatov achieved that dream in his UFC debut, but he feels it won’t be the biggest achievement he will accomplish in his career. “It is always a pleasure to win at home,” says Gamzatov. “I won’t remember it for long. It will be a kind of beginning of a career top story for me!”
So now that he’s in the UFC, what’s next? Gamzatov doesn’t say a belt is his goal, he doesn’t say he wants to be champion. He simply wants to take it one step at a time and beat the fighters put in front of him. “My goals are to win, to defeat everyone in my path whoever they give me!”
As mentioned earlier, Gamzatov has competed in a few organizations. But when it comes to the best, he is adamant on the UFC being the best.
“Yes, I fought everywhere and in every organization I have positive memories! Of course, the UFC is the top and everyone is eager to get there! From the first day of stay in this organization, everything works professionally before the fight and after the fight. The professionals from media to cameramen are gathered here! They are the best in everything!”
Pros Pick UFC 245: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
UFC 245 is around a couple weeks away. In the main event, we have the long awaited main event between welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, and former interim champion, the ever controversial Colby Covington. Gamzatov weighed in on the clash between the two.
“I think Kamaru Usman will win. I will cheer for him. [Usman and Covington] have similar styles but Kamaru is more powerful!”