More and more Russian fighters are trying to reach the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Among them: Nikolay Aleksakhin, he of the 22-5 record and five-fight winning streak.
What do we know about him? The 28-year-old welterweight started his martial arts career in combat sambo, where he became a multiple-time national champion and developed his technique and distance control while acquiring a taste for hand-to-hand competition. Aleksakhin made his professional mixed martial arts debut in 2011 -- he was 20 at the time -- and has since competed in the ProFC, M-1 Global, Absolute Championship Berkut, Fight Nights Global and One Championship organizations.
Aleksakhin won the 2014 ProFC welterweight grand prix with a unanimous decision over Dimitri Zebrowski, then locked horns with Jose de Ribamar Machado Gomes at ACB 21 on Aug. 29, 2015. Their encounter did not last long, as he stopped Gomes with punches 4:12 into the first round. One Championship soon came calling, and after he submitted Burenzorig Batmunkh with a rear-naked choke in his organizational debut, Aleksakhin challenged Ben Askren for the welterweight championship.
Though he lost his title fight to the undefeated Askren by unanimous decision, Aleksakhin put forth one of the best performances of his career. It remains one of Askren’s most difficult tests. Aleksakhin handled his business on the feet and competently defended himself on the ground against the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler.
Aleksakhin went on to lose a three-round decision to fellow Russian prospect Saygid Izagakhmaev -- the Eagles MMA rep was 12-0 when they fought -- before rattling off five consecutive victories. He last fought at Russian Cagefighting Championship 5 in December, when he scored a second-round knockout against Rodrigo Cavalheiro Correia.
After his latest win, Aleksakhin set his sights on greener pastures and sent a message to UFC President Dana White in which he said he believed his time had come and that he wanted to fight the best of the best. Aleksakhin also showed interest in a rematch with Askren, who will make his promotional debut opposite Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 on March 2.