The 411 MMA Top 10 08.19.13: Top 10 Slavic Fighters
Posted by Alex Rella on 08.19.2013
From Fedor Emelianenko and Andrei Arlovski to Alexander Shlemenko, Oleg Taktarov, Mirko Cro Cop and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 fighters from Slavic countries!
Top Ten Slavic Fighters
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten fighters to come out of Slavic nations. Originally I was going to do Mayhem Miller's top ten, but then he got arrested and I don't really want to highlight him at this point in time so that I'll come back to that one down the road. So this is a list I've wanted to do for awhile as so far I have ranked people from Brazil, England, and Canada. If you don't know Slavic nations include Russia, Belorussia, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and a bunch of other ones you can look up if you don't trust me. The fighters on this list are ranked based on overall success, past titles or title opportunities, record, career longevity, time spent in top promotions and some of my personal opinion. Keep in mind this is also an all time list.
Dennis Siver gets the slight edge over Nurmagodev this week as he comes in at the tenth spot. While he currently hails from Germany, he was born in Omsk and only moved to Germany when he was seventeen years old. He started his career competing at welterweight, but now he's one of the best featherweights in the world. Siver has been with the UFC since 2007 and has competed against some of the top fighters in the world. 21-9 record, 3x Fight of the Night, 2x KO and one Submission of the Night winner. Siver has also defeated Diego Nunes, Matt Wiman, George Sotiropoulous, and Spencer Fisher. While Siver hasn't always won against top competition, I think he has bigger wins at this point over the rising prospect Nurmagomedov.
9: Alexander Emelianenko
Fedor's little brother comes in this week at the ninth spot. Alexander Emelianenko recently came out of his brief retirement in May and already has added on two more wins. He has another fight coming up next week with TUF alumni Darrill Schoonover and one later in the year against Mirko Cro Cop. He has a nice record of 23-6 competing mostly in Pride and M-1, but he really hasn't gone u against top competition the past couple years because of rumors of hepatitis. He's somebody I always try to go out of my way to watch his fights and maybe he'll get a call if the UFC does ever put on a show in Russia.
8: Alexander Shlemenko
In my opinion Alexander Shlemenko is the best middleweight outside of the UFC today. Shlemenko has a really nice 47-7 record, has won Bellator's season 2 and 5 middleweight tournaments, and is their current champion at 185 lbs. Currently on a ten fight win streak and 16-1 in his last seventeen, Shlemenko has really turned into a complete well rounded fighter at 29 years old. Even some of his protégés are starting to make waves in Bellator. He'll defend his title for the first time against former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall in what should be a brutal tough fight.
7: Sergei Kharitonov
I don't get why the Russian Mercenary doesn't have a spot with a top company or even why he barely fights anymore. I know the UFC doesn't like dealing with Golden Glory, but other companies like Bellator, WSOF, or even M-1 would benefit by having him around. The former Russian paratrooper and boxer has had a solid career so far and is only 32. Kharitonov last fought in June 2012 and has spent the last couple years kickboxing mostly. Kharitonov has had respectable runs in Pride and Strikeforce and has notable wins over Overeem, Werdum, Rizzo, Mike Russow and Arlovski. The big knock against him is that his submission defense is pretty bad, but he usually finds a way to win with his 19-5 record. Kharitonov has made the semifinals of the Pride and Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix's as well.
6: Vladimir Matyushenko
The former Soviet National Wrestling Champion has been fighting since 1997 and has competed all over the world. A former UFC light heavyweight number one contender, Vladimir Matyushenko is getting up in fighting years now, but he was a top fighter for most of his career. The Janitor (awesome nickname) has defeated Igor Pokrajac, Tim Boetsch, Pedro Rizzo, Little Nog, Yuki Kondo, and more. Matyushenko recently signed with Bellator and has a big fight coming up against former Bellator light heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu at Bellator 99 in the main event. A win would put him back on track and extend his career a bit longer, but it's a tough fight since his chin didn't look good in his last two fights and a loss may be the last one for his career.
5: Oleg Taktarov
The Russian Bear was one of the top heavyweights in the early UFC tournament days. His then unique background style in judo and sambo made him a top fighter in the mid 1990's. Taktarov won the UFC 6 tournament, was a runner up at Ultimate Ultimate 95, and was a semifinalist at UFC 5. He also had a brutal 33 minute draw against Ken Shamrock at UFC 7 for the Superfight title. Oleg would have had a much larger resume (17-5-2), but he stopped fighting to pursue his acting career. Can't blame a guy for switching to a career where you don't have to get hit in the face constantly. He did return in 2006-07 and finished his career on a five fight win streak when he submitted Mark Kerr with a kneebar.
4: Igor Vovchanchyn
Igor Vovchanchyn was only 5'8 and was the best heavyweight in the world for a couple years. But he fought so much at a young age that it wore down his body and he ended up retiring at only 32. Even though his career was cut short, he still fought 66 times (55-10(1)) and had 63 kickboxing fights (61-2). He reached the finals of the Pride 2000 Openweight Grand Prix which really was one of the most stacked tournaments ever. Igor won a bunch of tournaments in smaller promotions and dominated the early Pride days by defeating guys like Enson Inoue, Mark Kerr, and Gilbert Yvel. Even though he was way past his prime by then, it would have been cool to see him fight Fedor in Pride.
3: Andrei Arlovski
Anthony Johnson killed Andrei Arlovski's hopes of returning to the UFC, but Arlovski is still one of the top fighters this week. Now fighting for the World Series of Fighting, Arlovski's best moments were in the UFC. Arlovski defeated Tim Sylvia for the interim UFC heavyweight title at UFC 51 and the title was later promoted to the official title. He would defend the title twice before losing it to Sylvia at UFC 59. Arlovski also has wins over Matyushenko, Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Travis Fulton, and more. He has a fight coming up next month against Mike Kyle which should be fun, but it's also a must win if Arlovski wants to stay somewhat relevant.
2: Mirko Cro Cop
Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery, was the best catchphrase ever and Mirko Cro Cop really lived up to it. Mirko Cro Cop is one of the greatest heavyweights to ever compete in MMA. One of the greatest strikers in MMA moved over from K-1 to Pride in 2001. He was the winner of the 2006 Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix and has a long list of wins over other legends of the sport like Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, Igor Vovchanchyn, and others. His UFC run was lack luster, but he has since returned to kickboxing. Cro Cop has shown he is still a good fighter in his older age as he is 6-0 since returning to K-1 and even won the K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 a few months ago. This is a huge accomplishment considering he was a runner up thirteen years ago. Cro Cop is still competing in MMA today as well. Last New Year's Eve he submitted sumo wrestler Shinichi Suzukawa and has fights coming up with Alexander Emelianenko and Satoshi Ishii.
1: Fedor Emelianenko
An easy choice as The Last Emperor is the best fighter to ever come out of a Slavic nation. Fedor Emelianenko retired last summer with an awesome 35-4 record and also has an easy claim as the best heavyweight of all time. His best years were in Pride where he won the 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix and the heavyweight championship. Fedor went undefeated from 2001-09 and even his first loss was a little bogus. His Strikeforce run was disappointing to say the least, but he did end his career on a three fight win streak and he beat some of the best fighters of all time during his better years. He beat Big Nog, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Pedro Rizzo, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop, Kevin Randleman, and so many more. Fedor had just an amazing career despite the criticism that comes from never fighting in the UFC.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week will be Shogun's top ten.