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Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist Reportedly Considering MMA Transition



Olympic gold medalist and World Freestyle wrestling champion Zaurbek Sidakov is reportedly considering a switch to MMA, according to UFC fighter Muhammadjon Naimov.

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A three-time world champion, Sidakov won the gold in Men’s Freestyle Wrestling at 74 kilograms (163 pounds) at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. However, Sidakov isn’t eligible to compete in the upcoming Paris Olympics as his name didn’t appear on the recently published list of Russian and Belarusian athletes approved to compete by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Russian and Belarusian athletes were initially banned from competing at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the IOC later permitted the athletes to participate as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) approved by the Individual Neutral Athletes Eligibility Panel (AINERP). Athletes had to prove their dissociation from the war and their countries’ military forces to be eligible to compete.

Along with Sidakov, other notable names like Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Zaur Rizvanovich Uguev, Mahamedkhabid Katzimahamedau were also not approved to compete due to their previous displays of support to the war effort. 2021 Olympic gold medallists Sidakov and Uguev attended the “Wrestling – Strong People, Strong Country” rally in Ulyanovsk, Russia, to show their support for the war.

UFC featherweight prospect Naimov recently claimed that Sidakov is now considering a move to MMA.

“He told me that definitely after the Olympics he will transfer to MMA,” Naimov said in an interview on the Ushatayka YouTube channel (translation via FloWrestling). “I think he will come.”

Naimov further claims to have spoken to MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz regarding Sidakov’s potential UFC signing. “Hillman” also said that former UFC double champ Henry Cejudo has offered to help with Sidakov’s transition to MMA.

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