Russian Fighter Rasul Mirzaev Training for Comeback After Manslaughter Conviction

Last November, Russian featherweight Rasul Mirzaev was convicted of negligent manslaughter in the 2011 death of 19-year-old student Ivan Agafonov in a Moscow street fight.

Mirzaev received a sentence of two years in prison, but since he’d already spent more than one year behind bars -- and since each day in pre-trial detention counts as two in prison -- he was released on time served. On Monday, the Criminal Board of the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal from Agafonov’s family which sought to put Mirzaev back in lockup.

Mirzaev, who was signed by Bellator prior to his trial, still has two years of strict probation which will prevent him from “leaving his home district in Dagestan or taking part in any large-scale public events.” According to his trainer and Russian national sambo coach Alexander Konakov, however, the 26-year-old is already eying a comeback.

“As soon as he became clean from a legal point of view, I know that Rasul Mirzaev started training,” Konakov told RSport.ru this week. “And because he’s training, that means he intends to return to the ring and revive his career. ... That’s his work, that’s what he does best. And he is yet to fulfill his potential.”

This conviction is something -- fair or unfair -- that will haunt Mirzaev whenever he makes his way to one of MMA’s bigger promotions, should he even get that far. We have seen in the past what happens when you decide to rock racist tattoos or have a violent criminal history: the blogosphere revs itself into high gear and every self-anointed Defender of the Realm springs into action to protect the sport from those that would do her harm.

I don’t want to demean the tragedy that befell the victim and his loved ones, but if the accounts are accurate, this is a gentleman who got punched in the face once by a pro MMA fighter, was taken to a hospital where he received less than adequate care, lapsed into a coma and perished four days later. This doesn’t seem to be a case of a fighter losing it and going HAM on some helpless bystander.

So the question everyone has to answer, including promoters who might think about booking this guy in the future, has to be, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

We saw what happened when there was an uproar over Dan McGuane -- a fighter who did time after being convicted for manslaughter when he and his brother killed a man in a street fight. I am not saying these two incidents share any similarities other than a person losing their life, but let’s be honest: those looking to be outraged will have no problem pulling out their pitchforks should either of these guys ink a contract with a prominent organization. Any promoter who decides to go into business with someone with this kind of history will -- as they should -- have a whole lot of ‘splainin to do when the media inevitably comes calling.

Unless there are some mitigating circumstances we haven’t heard yet, or unless Mizraev goes on a 20-0 run in Europe, I don’t see him getting any different reception than McGuane, who has had all kinds of trouble finding fights after being released.
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