The Ukrainian people aren’t losing one of their resistance fighters to protect themselves from Russia’s needless war against their country. Bellator Ukrainian welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov already has a fight on his hands and won’t defend his championship as scheduled on May 13.
Bellator, America’s second-largest mixed martial arts promotion, announced Amosov’s withdrawal from his upcoming bout with top challenger Michael Page on Wednesday due to actively defending his home country. His first title defense since winning the championship last June will have to wait, as Page will now face Logan Storley in the Bellator 281 main event to crown an interim champion.
“Like the rest of the world, we’ve been shocked by the tragic events in Ukraine and the thoughts of everyone at Bellator MMA are with Yaroslav and all the Ukrainian people during this time,” said Bellator MMA President Scott Coker via news release. “We wish he and his family the best and look forward to seeing him return safely to happier times, both inside and out of the Bellator cage.”
Amosov has yet to do an interview on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has posted video messages to his Instagram account. One video’s caption is translated to “I love my country. Lived in it! I’m living! Gonna live,” while another states “Our Ukraine is the best in the world.”
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Amosov hasn’t fought since his world-championship victory in December, a unanimous decision victory and dethroning of Douglas Lima. As a professional fighter, Amosov is 26-0 and currently holds the longest active unbeaten streak in all of MMA. He’s three wins shy of the all-time record held by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired at 29-0 after an October 2020 victory. Amosov is also No.5 in Bellator’s pound-for-pound rankings, while Page is No. 9. Amosov is also one of six fighters in the promotion that are undefeated with at least 10 victories.
Forcing Amosov to take up an individual fight while Russian forces bombard not just his country, but his home city of Irpin, wouldn’t be right. Irpin has become a key battleground site in the invasion, with Vladimir Putin’s forces hoping to overtake Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and most populous city. Irpin is around 120 miles from the border with Belarus and 40 from Kyiv. Amosov is no doubt a dangerous fighter, with only seven of his wins coming by judge’s decision, as opposed to 19 finished by knockout or submission. Instead of putting together an intensive fight camp to keep his unblemished record intact, his combat expertise is needed more to defend his home.