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Yaroslav Amosov was no longer fighting for Ukraine in the country’s war against Russia. The Bellator welterweight champion is back in MMA. Or at least that’s what he’s trying to do.
This past spring, Amosov traded his costume for his own Bellator gear. He plans to return to active competition on February 25, to defend his title in a unification match against interim champion Logan Storley. It will be a rematch of the November 2020 match, which Amosov won (26-0) via split decision.
“I can’t say I’m surprised that Sturley won the interim belt,” says Amosov, speaking through an interpreter. “His wrestling is good. In our fight, he was very aggressive. I like his pressure.”
Splitting his training between Germany and Poland, Amosov is working off the rust that has accumulated since his last participation 17 months ago. His time away from the cage was directly related to his decision to serve in the Ukrainian army. He had no plans to leave, but was encouraged by family and friends to fight in MMA and represent Ukraine on the world stage instead.
However, Amosov is still haunted by what he experienced. He left the war, but the war did not leave him.
“Leaving Ukraine was very difficult,” says Amosov. “It wasn’t what I wanted to do. People were pushing me to leave, all their intentions were pure. But I feel so terrible about it. I’ve felt this way since I crossed the border. It’s still very volatile. I’m constantly waiting for news from my friends. I’m still learning about Friends who died. Just thinking about it is terrible, and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Only 29 years old, Amosov initially wondered if he would continue his fighting career. This mindset has evolved since he left active combat, but he feels a duty to fight – and defend – for his country.
“I will continue to defend Ukraine,” says Amosov. We did not invade someone else’s country. This is what Russia did to us. All we want is for life to return to normal. We just want life to get back to normal again. We don’t want anything else.”
As Ukraine tightly stresses its freedom, it comes at a price. More than 7,000 civilians have been killed since the war began in February, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. These deaths are the main reason for Amosov’s return to Bellator.
Once the situation in his hometown of Irpin had stabilized, and central Ukraine had been liberated from Russian occupation, Amosov realized that it was his responsibility to carry the flag of Ukraine around the world. During his February fight at Bellator 291 in Dublin, Ireland, that’s exactly what he’ll do.
“At first, I wondered if I would ever live, let alone fight again,” says Amosov. “As the war progressed, I found a new perspective. I’m not Bellator back for me. I’m not fighting for me. I’m fighting for Ukraine. The war is still going on, and the world needs to know that.”
Amosov wants to beat Storley in February. His motivations are completely different than they were a year ago, during a peaceful period where his only focus was to be the best in the world.
MMA is a channel for Amosov, a platform to relay the stories of his fallen soldiers. Their life did not end without a purpose, and this is a message he intends to share.
“War means death, and my friends are dying,” says Amosov. I didn’t know what the real problems were until the war started. Unfortunately, I know now. “
Mystery surrounds Derrick Lewis after the fight was called off last week, but the holidays are on the horizon
He was scheduled to fight Derrick Lewis this past Saturday, headlining the UFC Fight Night tournament against Sergei Spivak. According to the UFC, the bout was canceled due to Lewis suffering a non-COVID illness not related to weight reduction.
The timing of the fight seemed perfect for Lewis, who prefers to fight before Thanksgiving.
“I thought about that when I had the fight,” said Lewis, who spoke before the fight. “My wife’s birthday is coming up, and I’ve thought about that, too. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s parties. I can’t think of those when I’m fighting.”
To date, the match has not been rescheduled. This will allow Lewis to enjoy Thanksgiving without thinking about an upcoming fight. And while Louis loves to eat, he won’t be enjoying any turkey this Thanksgiving.
“Turkey is very dry,” says Lewis. “I don’t like it. I’m a pork man.”
Although the first Thanksgiving doesn’t have any historical roots, Lewis is a big proponent of making ham a mainstay of the holidays.
“Honey ham, I’ve been eating that all day,” Lewis says. “I would eat it two days in a row. I love pork.”
Women’s World Championship Lightweight Match: Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco
pluck or pluck: Kayla Harrison
World Featherweight Championship Match: Bubba Jenkins vs Brendan Lovnan
pluck or pluck: Brendan Loughnan
World Heavyweight Championship: Ante Delia vs. Matthews Scheffel
pluck or pluck: You are Delia
Fifa World Lightweight Championship Match: Stevie Ray vs Olivier Aubin Mercier
pluck or pluck: Olivier Aubin-Mercier
World Welterweight Championship Match: Sadebo C vs. Delano Taylor
pluck or pluck: Sadebo C
World Light Heavyweight Championship: Rob Wilkinson vs. Amari Ahmadov
pluck or pluck: Rob Wilkinson
Last week: 3-1
2022 Record: 134-72
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