Six months ago, the world champion MMA fighter Yaroslav Amosov He was supposed to defend his welterweight title at Bellator 281 in London. Instead, Ukraine returned home on February 24 to aid the war effort following Russia’s invasion.
now, Amosov will make his highly anticipated return to the cage at Bellator 291 on February 25, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland, to defend his belt against interim titleholder Logan Storley.
For several months, any thoughts of a return to MMA were firmly on the back of Amosov’s mind, but the 29-year-old says the encouragement of those close to him convinced him to pull on the gloves once again.
“When the war started, I didn’t know if I was going to survive from one day to the next, let alone fight,” Amosov told CNN Sport. “As things progress, you change your perspective.
“Once my hometown in Ukraine was freed from Russian occupation, people around me – my family and friends pushed me to train again because they wanted me to represent my country internationally. And be able to talk about what’s going on.
“This war puts things into perspective. You think you have problems, and then you really have problems. Everything else pales in comparison. At this point, the focus is on ending the war, the killing. focused on eradicating and bringing the situation back to normal.
Amosov is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and, at 26-0, currently holds the longest unbeaten streak in all of MMA, tying Khabib Nurmagomedov’s all-time record of 29-0. Only three wins are needed. .
Amosov’s involvement in the fight first became widely known in April, when a video of him retrieving his world championship belt from the wreckage of his home in Arpan went viral.
Speaking exclusively to CNN with Arpan in May, Amosov recounted the horror and destruction that Vladimir Putin’s war has wrought in his homeland. He described it as “devastating”.
Amasov had returned home from a training camp in Thailand four days before the war began. Once Russian troops began to advance, Amusov says he took his wife and six-month-old son to safety on the outskirts of Ukraine, before they began killing civilians in and around Arpan. Join the Territorial Defense to help.
But even now that he’s back in camp and ramping up his training, Ukraine is never far from his mind.
“Even while training in Germany and Poland, this war is definitely not something I can walk away from and forget,” he said. “Coming back to MMA was a difficult decision, and I didn’t come to it lightly.
“I wasn’t totally into it, but my family and friends kept pushing me to get back into the fight. I remember just crossing the border into Ukraine and feeling terrible. I had loved ones and family. From those who are still in Ukraine, I receive constant news about people who are no longer with us.
“I’ve lost great friends, training partners in this war. It’s horrible. It’s a very volatile situation. I try my best to avoid talking about it or thinking about it because There are compromises in my training, but you can’t get away with it.
Amosov says part of the reason for his decision to return to the cage to fight Storley, whose only career loss came in a split decision loss to Amosov in 2020, is to continue to remind people that It was said that their compatriots are facing repatriation. still ongoing.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at least 6,595 Ukrainian citizens have been killed and 10,189 injured since Russia invaded the country.
According to figures released on Monday, the dead included at least 415 children, 2,575 men, 1,767 women and 1,838 other adults whose gender has yet to be identified. .
The commission said the actual figure was “significantly higher” due to a lack of or delayed information in areas where the conflict has intensified, including in cities such as Mariupol, Izum, Lysychansk, Popasna and Severodontsk.
The atrocities in Ukraine are beyond belief. You cannot be human and do what you do. [Russian soldiers] are doing It is beyond imagination. Regardless of your views on war, any war is bad. People are dying on both sides, people are dying, and that in itself is bad.
But just ask yourself: Where is the war taking place, and who attacked? We are doing nothing but defending our land. And we are having success, but it comes with loss of life, death.
“This whole experience changes perspective. When I read on Twitter and see fighters saying, ‘This is going to be a fight. I’m going to beat him in the cage, they don’t know what a real fight is. .. I can’t help but think, ‘You have no idea what real war is, or what it’s like to actually kill someone.’
“As for training and fighting, I now have a different motivation. I want to continue to represent Ukraine on the world stage and remind people that we still exist, and that the war is still on. We don’t want anything; we just want to go back to normal.”