Kiamrian Abbasov’s Long, Painful Road to Prominence

Kiamrian Abbasov was quite surprised when he received his first real paycheck—$300—as a prizefighter in 2014. He had several professional mixed martial arts fights under his belt at the time, but he was sure mere mortals had no possibility of making money in the sport. Despite those harsh realities, Abbasov fought whenever and wherever it was possible. He accepted almost any offer from promoters, regardless of his physical condition or the preparation time he was afforded. Abbasov needed to test himself and hungered for the taste of victory.

“I was offered a fight in 2013 three days after I took part in another grueling fight,” he told Sherdog.com. “I agreed without hesitation, although I knew I’d have to travel to another city 300 kilometers from home to participate in the event. I went there, but my opponent did not show up for the weigh-in. The promoter proposed that I fight someone else who was left without an opponent. I weight 178 pounds without cutting weight, and he was 191 pounds. I agreed to the fight and soon regretted it. I severely injured my leg in the first round, and when I told my coach that it was starting to go numb, he got angry. ‘What nonsense,’ he said. ‘Are you chickening out. Get in the battle.’

“I somehow got through it in the second round, but by the end of the third, I could hardly step on my injured leg,” Abbasov added. “I still won by unanimous decision, received another award but no money and happily went home to treat my leg. Doctors diagnosed me with a fracture. This was the way I lived then. It’s a pity I first heard about Sherdog a year later. If it had happened three to four years earlier, there would have been at least 30 victories on my record.”

Abbasov is a Turkish national. His grandfather was born in Meskheti—an area in modern-day Georgia where former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin deported the Turkish population in 1944 and planned to start a war against Turkey. This was how the Abbasov family wound up in Kyrgyzstan. His parents separated when he was only 3 years old, and he was raised by his mother, who worked in a grocery store. He has had little contact with his father.

“I was a difficult child,” Abbasov said. “I constantly fought and got involved in all sorts of bad situations. My mother complained about me to one of her regular customers, a Greco-Roman wrestling coach. He asked her to bring me up to his gym. I liked it and went to Greco-Roman wrestling for three years. Then I began to come up with some excuses not to go—I’d tell them I had a headache and that sort of thing—because I fell in love with boxing. I spent whole days in the gym, thrashing punching bags and working in pairs. Then I started to compete. I didn’t want to do anything else but fight.”

A man introduced himself to Abbasov as an MMA referee in 2010. After seeing him work the punching bag, he told the 17-year-old he could fight professionally in a month and a half.

“I didn’t know what MMA was, but after someone gave me a tape of the UFC 100 event in which Brock Lesnar knocked out Frank Mir, I realized that mixed fights were for me,” Abbasov said. “Just like before with Greco-Roman wrestling and boxing, I began to live for the sport. My uncle, Yakub Aliyev, soon became my MMA coach. Now when people ask me if I’m a puncher or a wrestler, I always say, ‘I’m a basic MMA fighter.’ I did not expect money for my fights, thinking that you can only earn something in the UFC.”

At the time, Abbasov worked as a security guard at a shopping center and part-time at an auto repair shop. Once his fights started being televised, he was hired by a private security agency. Even more drastic changes were ahead. Aliyev received a call from Besiki Gerenava, who invited Abbasov to his gym in Novorossiysk, Russia—a city on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Novorossiysk was not foreign to Abbasov; his wife Victoria was born and raised there.

“It was not about money but about the future,” Abbasov said. “I knew that in Russia I could achieve much more than I could in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, I did not have to think about it for long. I arrived in Novorossiysk on Jan. 3, 2015 and immediately applied for Russian citizenship. I had neither money nor work, only the opportunity to train in Besiki’s gym. There is a proverb: ‘Every dog is angry in his own yard.’ Less than a month and a half later, Besiki decided to test me by applying for the regional amateur MMA championship. I won four fights there and became the champion of the Krasnodar Krai region. Fedor Emelianenko, president of the MMA Union of Russia, noticed by professional past and did not let me go further. That was enough for Besiki. He offered me to the Prime Fight Management promotion company.”

Abbasov went on to compete in Tech-Krep Fighting Championship, headed by Prime Fight Management President Alexey Yatsenko—a man who now fronts Absolute Championship Akhmat. He surprised onlookers when he entered the cage under three flags: Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Russia. “After all,” Abbasov said, “I am a Turk with a Russian passport who grew up in Kyrgyzstan.” In 13 appearances between 2015 and 2017, Abbasov tasted defeat only once, submitting to an armbar from Yuri Izotov. He delivered nine of his 12 wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. “I always get pumped up during a fight, and it really helps me to win,” Abbasov said. “When I’m emotionally worked up, I get a second wind. Before a fight, I try to convince myself that my opponent has come to take what’s rightfully mine away from me; and I will not give what’s mine to anyone.”

Prime Fight Management in early 2018 assisted Abbasov in signing a contract with One Championship. However, in his first assignment with the Singapore-based organization, he lost a unanimous decision to Brazilian veteran Luis Santos. Undeterred, he rebounded in subsequent bouts with Agilan Thani and Yushin Okami before defeating Zebaztian Kadestam by unanimous decision to capture the welterweight title at One Championship “Dawn of Valor” on Oct. 25, 2019. Abbasov has since retained his championship with a fourth-round technical knockout of the previously unbeaten James Nakashima.

“My pride is defending my title,” he said. “The fight against Nakashima was very tough, although I was in a good shape and I expected to have better results. From the very beginning, things did not go according to plan. My coach and I hoped I would be the aggressor, but when Nakashima broke my nose in the first round, I had no choice but to counterattack. I began to pour blood all over, and I was very afraid of a doctor stoppage. Fortunately, the cutmen corrected the situation; they stopped the blood and set my nose. However, I had to work as carefully as possible, which is why I gave round after round. I was not the favorite in this fight, and most viewers thought I had no chance against Nakashima. I was able to do what they thought was impossible.”

As he awaits his next assignment from One Championship, Abbasov would prefer more activity and admits he fantasizes about someday driving a figurative stake through the heart of one of MMA’s most notorious villains.

“Two fights a year is very little for a champion,” he said. “I signed a contract for six fights and already had five of them. In One, champion contracts are renewed automatically, so I cannot leave for another organization while I own the belt. However, I would like to fight more often and earn more. I also dream of someday hitting Colby Covington, who is posing as a bad guy. I would so much like to punish him for this. I understand that this behavior is often just an act, but it seems to me that Colby is not playing. He’s a really bad guy. I know that for this dream of mine to come true, I need to become the UFC champion or at least come close to getting the title. I’m sure I can do it.”
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