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Characters / Universal Wrestling Federation RINGS Russia

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Bazigit Atajev


Suren Balachinsky

  • A Day in the Limelight: Qualified for the King of Kings tournament, was a heavy favourite to win... and then was unceremoniously eliminated by Valentijn Overeem. He left and never came back.
  • Always Someone Better: He was said to be Fedor Emelianenko's superior in sambo, with two clean wins over him in competition, as well as the highest rated rookie of RINGS Russia. That's why he had his debut placed in the King of Kings tournament while Fedor had to wait in the midcard of the Battle Genesis events.
  • The Apprentice: To David Lvovich Rudman, Sergey Nikolaevich Lukashov, Renat Alekseevich Layshev, and Konstantin V. Troyanov.
  • Cool Teacher: Was a trainer at the "Sambo-70" sports school in the Cheremushki District of Moscow.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Fell to Overeem, supposedly, because one of the leg kicks from the Dutchman aggravated a knee injury.
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  • Husky Russkie
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: In 2004, he was chosen by Russian Top Team to face Fedor Emelianenko in PRIDE, as Fedor had just left the team in bad terms and they wanted him defeated badly. (The team's first option was Sergei Kharitonov, but he lacked success and also departed RTT shortly after). However, injuries got in his way again and he was forced to withdraw from the scheduled event.
  • I Know Sambo: Trained at the "Sambo-70" sports school in the Cheremushki District of Moscow. A three-time national champion, 2004 European silver medalist, one-time World Cup champion and two-time world champion in 1998 and 1999, with a bronze in 1997. He also knew Judo and was a multiple time Moscow State champion, with a bronze medal in 1998, and two silvers in 1999 and 2000 in the Russian national championships.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Old Soldier: Was once part of the Federal Tax Police Service of the Russian Federation (which replaced the KGB when it got dissolved) till its dissolution in 2003. After that he worked for the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia as a lieutenant colonel of the special forces till he retired in 2011.
  • Stout Strength: Competed in the highest weight class in sambo competition.
  • Unknown Character: Despite his supposed level, he never broke out in MMA, and he is barely known at all.

Karimula Barkalaev

"The ADCC, most recently held in London in 2016, featured the best grapplers - world champions, since the birth of this sport, it's the most prestigious event. Only two Russians in history managed to reach the final. And only one became champion - Karimula Barkalaev"
— Khabib Nurmagomedov, roughly translated from his VK account posted on 25 September 2017.

"He was a scary son of a bitch. A completely crazy Chechen!"
— Pat Miletich, who had been at the corner of Dave Menne for his fight with Karimula.

  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han.
  • Arch-Enemy: Ricardo Arona. He once tried to get him in a rematch in MMA to settle the score between them. Another one was Gilbert Yvel as he never got to properly avenge his loss in RINGS.
  • Badass Family: His uncle Abdulkhadzhi Shapievich Barkalaev and his son and Karimula's cousin Dzhabrail Abdulgadzhievich Barkalaev were Russian Judo champions and trainers. Dzhabrail also once served as the vice-president of the Dagestan Judo Federation. His nephew Ruslan Barkalaev is also a MMA fighter.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Had one in Mikhail Ilyukhin.
  • Bitch Slap: Accidentally did this to Ricardo Arona in their ADCC match, he was actually trying to grab his neck, a classic move of the Dagestan fighting traditions. Arona was not amused and the match briefly devolved into a slap fest.
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Cool Teacher: Left RINGS after he was offered to be the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's Judo and sambo instructor, which also payed him better until his illegal slap fest with Ricardo Arona at the 2000 ADCC Championships. He is apparently still teaching grappling somewhere in Russia.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Had a MMA career of 11 wins and 1 loss. The loss was by a controversial unanimous decision to Dave Menne at the Shidokan Jitsu - Warriors War 1 event since he instinctively held on to the cage a couple of times after Menne tried to overturn him, he ended up being a victim of "Big" John McCarthy's point steal penalties that cost him the fight that he dominated.
    • He does have a loss to Gilbert Yvel in his sole fight in RINGS by KO, though for some reason it is not included in his MMA record despite being the only confirmed shoot of that show, the 1997 World Mega Battle Tournament Semi Finals.
  • Disappeared Dad: His dad died when he was a child.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Retired from fighting due to a back injury. There were once quite a few rumours as to why he left fighting, one said that he had been traumatized for being imprisoned in Abu Dhabi and was no longer in the right mental condition to fight on certain levels, another said that he had to hang up his gloves after having suffered a severe brain aneurysm following a match in Thailand. More stories, even more imaginative, tell of how he had been killed in a firefight during the war in neighboring Chechnya or that he met his end due to his alleged links with the Russian mafiya that turned bad.
  • Hero Killer: Has a TKO win over Brazilian Vale Tudo legend Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons.
  • Hidden Depths: Once owned a car repair business and is the head of Makhachkala Universal Market Dag Potreb Soyuz, LLC. He also once worked as a politician and runs a billiard room that in memory of old times he called "Abu Dhabi".
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, he mostly competed as a light heavyweight, with his highest recorded weight at about 200 pounds.
  • I Know Judo: Was once part of the Russian national team. As well as sambo, Kickboxing (is also rumored to be a three time Dagestan Champion) and also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is the only Russian to have ever won a ADCC World Championship, having won the 1999 ADCC World Championship in the 88kg division and also won silver at the 1998 ADCC in the same division being beaten by Rodrigo Gracie in the finals by decision after 30 minutes.
  • Man Bites Man: Suffered this in his fight with Gilbert Yvel in the IAFC, which got Yvel disqualified.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: From Dagestan, though some sources say he was originally born in Georgia. He now lives in Makhachkala.
  • Red Baron: "Mr. X", "Lev" ("Lion").
  • Sore Loser: After his controversial loss to Dave Menne, his teammates, furious about the result, invaded the ring to face the American and his team and were stopped only by the fortunate intervention of a group of Navy Seals that by pure chance was in the audience. With difficulty, Menne and his corner managed to leave the building unharmed but in the following hours they almost ended up the victim of another assault by the Russians, who armed with knives, surrounded them in the hotel lobby when they went to take back their luggage. Escaping again and feeling they were in danger, Menne and his men asked the sheikh who organised the show to be transferred to another hotel and after a night spent in fear, they returned home on the first available plane.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": He is sometimes listed as Kareem Barkalev.
  • Stone Wall: Showcased in his ADCC match with Ricardo Arona, as he was never in any danger of being submitted nor could Arona even hold him down for long before Karimula pulled off an escape and only loss in the overtime due to points from a sweep (contrary to accounts where he was disqualified and immediately jailed).
  • The Unpronounceable: Was introduced in RINGS as Lev Barkala.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After his last MMA in 2001, he seemingly dropped off the face of the planet with many MMA fans wondering where he disappeared to. It has lessened now as there have been reports that he is fine and teaching grappling somewhere in Russia.

Iouri Bekichev

Orjol Bekov

Mikhail Borissov

Fedor Emelianenko

"Fedor has no weakness. I have seen so many fights, and even the best fighters in the world have a flaw in their game but I have yet to find one in Fedor Emelianenko."
"People say he doesn’t look intimidating but I don’t know whether that’s true. Sometimes I see people who try to not look concerned. And you can tell they’re trying hard to come across that way. But, with Fedor, that’s just him. He puts the fear of the unknown on you. I’d rather someone tried to stare me down. That allows me to get a read on them. You look at the guys who are supposedly scary and intimidating, the ones who get in people’s faces, and you know most of the time it’s just for show. Fedor is quite comfortable being himself and that’s scarier than anything."
— Chris Haseman

  • The Ace: In Pride FC, the Russian Top Team and the Red Devil Sport Club. He was undefeated in MMA for about a decade.
  • Affectionate Nickname: He is called "Fedya" by his family.
  • Always Someone Better: He once mentioned he believed his brother Alexander is the more talented fighter.
  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov, Nikolai Zouev, Mikhail Ilyukhin, Alexander Fedorov, Andrey Byldin, Nikolai Pitkov, Vladimir Voronov, Aleksander Michkov, and Vasily Gavrilov.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He is president of the Russian MMA Union.
  • Badass Family: His brother Alexander is a respected MMA and sambo fighter in his own right.
  • Badass Teacher: He holds seminars every now and then on MMA and sambo.
  • Bald of Awesome
  • Bash Brothers: With his real life brothers Alexander and Ivan. Not so much with Alexander anymore as it was revealed that they have not spoken to each other for 10 years.
  • Beware of the Nice Ones: He has been described as a humble man whose personality is seen as warm and likable outside of fights, in fights he will beat the will to fight out of anyone in his view.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Many of his fights don't last beyond the first round.
  • Death Glare: Famous for it, even though he doesn’t actually try, it just contrasts with the atmosphere around him at MMA events so much that it just feels disturbing. It has been compared with Wanderlei Silva's glare, the guy whose Red Baron is "The Axe Murderer". Silva's glare makes you think 'this is gonna hurt', while Fedor's glare makes you think 'I might die'.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Against Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira who was considered unbeatable at the time where Fedor was considered the underdog, after his victory he was considered unbeatable.
    • His three straight loses in Strikeforce is an Inversion.
  • Dissonant Serenity: His state of mind in fight.
  • The Dreaded: People feared his ground-and-pound game and his Death Glare. He should be considered The Dreaded since even a Challenge Seeker like Kazushi Sakuraba refused a chance to fight him.
  • Dull Surprise / Flat Character: At the peak of Japanese MMA, they went all out with elaborate entrances and was full of fighters with outlandish and/or entertaining personalities. What made Fedor stand out other than his skills was his blank stare and refusal to emote, which contrasted with the scenery and freaked the other fighters out.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Despite his many achievements in sambo and Judo, in MMA he is mostly known and feared for his boxing and ground-and-pound skills.
  • Future Badass: That is, even more badass. He won the RINGS Absolute Championship and dominated the promotion, but it was when he jumped to PRIDE Fighting Championship that he showed his true potential.
  • Hero Killer: Defeated Ricardo Arona (in a controversial decision) and then went to beat Renato Babalu, Lee Hasdell and Chris Haseman to win the mentioned championship.
  • Husky Russkie: His nationality is Russian, but ethnically he is Ukrainian.
  • I Know Sambo: A world champion at that. He is also a world medalist in Judo, trained in boxing and went to Holland to learn Muay Thai to improve his Kickboxing.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Was a heavyweight that was described as being able to move like a lightweight, at least in his younger days.
  • Master of All: Excelled in the three fields: stand-up (his sole boxing was skill enough to outstrike important kickboxers), wrestling (he is a Judo and sambo medalist) and groundfighting (has a hell of a ground-and-pound).
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Nerves of Steel: The greatest example in MMA.
  • The Quisling: Switched to the Red Devil Sports Club due to claims of management abuse when he was with Russian Top Team.
  • Real Men Love Jesus/Religious Bruiser: For a man not known to say much, he has been described as being outspoken in his Orthodox Christian faith.
  • Red Baron: "The Last Emperor", "The Baddest Man On The Planet", "Saikyō no Otoko" ("The Strongest Man"), "Mikado no Kōri" ("The Emperor of Ice").
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni / Sibling Yin-Yang: He is the blue, Alexander's is the red.
  • Respected by the Respected: See Bas Rutten's quote above and the fact Kazushi Sakuraba refused a fight against him.
  • The Stoic: This is how he describes his state of mind in a fight.
    "When I walk into a fight, I'm trying not to think about anything; collect myself and concentrate. And going into a fight, I don't feel any emotions, neither anger nor compassion. I don't emotionalize. I'm going into a fight with a clear mind... During the fight, my senses dim and basically I don't feel any pain."
    • Also being born in Russia this is his expression around strangers.
    • Not So Stoic: He is described by people close to him as warm and likable which is understandable as Russians tend to open up only to people they are close with.
  • Stout Strength: Was quite pudgy compared to other fighters.
  • Suplex Finisher: He was on the receiving end of one by Kevin Randleman. Subverted though as it didn't finish him and Fedor actually won seconds later by submission, which makes it seem that the suplex he took was not as bad as it looked.
  • Tranquil Fury: Despite saying that he feels nothing when he prepares to fight, it is hard not to think of this as he punishes someone with his ground-and-pound.
  • The Worf Effect: His three straight loses in Strikeforce.

Alexander Fedorov

"If he went to the World Sambo Championships today, he would win with overwhelming strength."
"At the top of mastery is not power, not talent, but tactics. Varying, improvisation, a quick transition from one technique to another is what brings good luck. How was it with me? The rival is still in the air, has not yet landed on the carpet, but I already spend the pain. Everything is swift!"
— Alexander Fedorov

  • The Ace: In his sambo days, he was said to have won at least 25 tournaments in a row.
  • Acrofatic: Gain quite a bit of weight after he retired from sambo competition, but still could demonstrate the more acrobatic techniques of sambo with ease.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Dave Meltzer once wrote that Fedorov was basically like a Russian Karl Gotch, Akira Maeda agreed with this assessment.
  • The Apprentice: To Alexander Kozlov (not that one).
  • Badass Grandpa: Although Retired Badass by the point he was in RINGS.
  • Badass Teacher: Was the original head trainer of RINGS Russia and also taught sambo to the RINGS Japan guys. He was also the one who suggested that Yoshihisa Yamamoto stay on the ropes in his fight with Rickson Gracie.
  • Blood Knight: Defied, he said that he never regarded fighting as fun, but was apparently banned from some international sambo tournaments because he regularly injured people.
  • Cool Old Guy: Most definitely.
  • Delinquent: Was one in his youth.
  • Downer Ending: Died on 22 May 2006, he was 61 years old.
  • Glass Cannon: His lack of stamina is what ultimately led to defeat against Adilson Lima (though it was his corner throwing in the towel to spare him from more abuse), but in the opening minutes of the fight, he actually out-grappled him and even tried to go for a guillotine choke.
  • Graceful Loser: He still hugged Lima after their fight. Hell he even hugged him before the fight.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: There is a story of when he was in Japan and caught a fish with only his hands.
  • Hidden Depths: Worked as a turner of workshop No. 42 at the Uralmash plant.
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, he was actually quite short for a Russian, especially compared to his students in RINGS Russia.
  • I Know Sambo: Champion and trainer.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Old Master: Was the coach of Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov, Nikolai Zouev, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Mikhail Illyukhin, as well as a legendary sambo player.
  • Red Baron: "King of The Stalls".
  • Revenge Before Reason: Offered himself to fight Adilson Lima in a MMA match to avenge the defeats suffered by Illyukhin and Yoshihisa Yamamoto. Needless to say, the 51 years old Fedorov could do little against the 33 years old Lima, but extra points for the effort.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": RINGS spelt his name as Alexandre Fedorov.
  • Ur-Example: Was part of the Russian team at the first European and World Sambo Championships and won gold in his division at both.

Volk Han

Mikhail Ilyukhin

"The training process may be characterised in one word - survival. Truth is, it was given to us only on use, other than physical development, character developed, will to victory."

  • Affectionate Nickname: "Misa".
  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han and was his best known student. He also got started in sambo under Viktor Anatolyevich Motorin and also trained under Viktor Lysenko and Alexander Fedorov.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: President of the Tula Sambo Federation.
  • Arch-Enemy: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters. He had somewhat of a chip on the shoulder for losing repeatedly to them.
  • Cowardly Lion: He often looked like he was terrified out of his mind while fighting, but he was unambiguously a good fighter and rarely committed mistakes.
  • Cool Teacher: Was a coach for Russian Top Team. He is also a sambo coach for the Russian national team and also has his own sports club.
  • David vs. Goliath: Against the 6 ft 8, 270 ib Ricardo Morais at the finals of the Absolute Fighting Championship tournament. Mikhail was fresher because his stablemate Achmed Sagidgusenov had allowed him to skip a fight, but still Morais posed a big menace. Unlike most examples, Mikhail lost the fight.
  • Determinator: Competed in two Russian MMA tournaments representing RINGS Russia, at least four fights back to back the same night. He won one of them beating Igor Vovchanchyn and reached the finals of another in a brutal brawl with Morais.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In his last MMA fight with Jordanas Poskaitis at HERO’s Lithuania 2005, when the referee told them to break and stand up, Jordanas landed a punch on Mikhail’s face right after. Mikhail was not amused and went ballistic, pushing the referee away and attempted to stomp Jordanas in before he had to be restrained by security. Thankfully once he calmed down, he only received a yellow card and apologized for his outburst and went on to win the fight (Jordanas also received a yellow card for his foul).
  • Heroic Build: Had the best looking body compared to everyone else in his stable (except for maybe Sergei Sousserov).
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, in terms of height as he was quite short at 5ft 9, his physique however plays it straight.
  • I Know Sambo: A national champion and also won bronze at the 1995 World Championships. He also had some training in boxing.
  • Improbable Weapon User: His chin. Yes, he defeated Igor Vovchancyn and Mestre Hulk by jamming his chin into their eye sockets while grappling them.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: He and Ricardo Morais gave some to each other.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His surname was spelled as Illoukhine in RINGS and some MMA websites. One MMA event spelt his name as Michael Ilugin.
  • Super Cop: Was a former police officer.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Russian "A" team along with Volk Han and Sergei Sousserov for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998.
  • The Unfettered: While not an overtly dirty fighter, at least compared to some fellows from RINGS Holland, Mikhail has some cheating to his name. He infamously tapped out Randy Couture by locking illegally a keylock attempt while they were being repositioned by the referee.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Finished off his last MMA opponent Jordanas Poskaitis with a Single Leg Boston Crab of all things.

Igor Kalmykov

Aleksandr Karelin

"I train every day of my life as they have never trained a day in theirs."
— Aleksandr Karelin, when asked why he is called "The Experiment".

  • The Ace: Had 2 undefeated streaks, the first from 1982 to 1987 and the second from 1987 to 2000, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as well as the fact that for 6 years he never even lost a point. He was a 14-time champion of the USSR and Russia, won 12 gold medals in the European Championships, won 9 gold medals in the World Championships, and won 3 Olympic gold medals in a row in the super heavyweight division with a silver in his 4th Olympics which he only lost because of new rules and a technicality.
  • The Apprentice: To his wrestling coach Viktor Kuznetsov.
  • Bald of Awesome
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: He could deadlift people with his Karelin Lift who were equal to or more than his weight, which was about 300 pounds. It is a move used regularly by wrestlers in lower weight classes, but is considered from impractical to near impossible in the superheavyweight division.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The main reason Akira Maeda brought him to RINGS when he could not get Rickson Gracie.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Most of his matches usually last about under 3 minutes.
  • Death Glare: When he lost to Rulon Gardner.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Inverted, in 1987 he lost to Igor Rostorotsky for that year's USSR championships.
    • Inverted again, to Rulon Gardner in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
  • Determinator: Aside from his hellish training, around January 1988 he had a serious concussion, and doctors considered removing him from the 1988 Olympic team, he competed anyway and he still won. In 1993 World Championships, despite breaking two ribs in the opening bout against Matt Ghaffari, he still won. At the 1996 European Championships in Budapest, he had torn the right chest muscle so badly that doctors predicted he would not be able to use his right hand for several months, he still won that and the 1996 World Championships. Was urgently operated on in Budapest and recovered within three months to compete at the 1996 Olympics, looked notable vulnerable throughout the whole tournament, and HE. STILL. WON!
  • The Dreaded: Struck fear in the hearts of Olympic wrestlers for two decades. Even today, people just look at pictures for him and decide they would wrestle a fire zombie gorilla rather than merely stepping on a mat with Aleksandr Karelin.
  • Expy: He is thought of as the second coming of legendary Greco-Roman wrestler Ivan Poddubny. Both were reportedly only defeated two times in their careers and both were known as "The Great".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare / Took a Level in Badass: His coach was at first skeptical about a big but powerless boy, yet he accepted Karelin and motivated him for hard training, both in wrestling technique and physical strength, now he is considered by many the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler to have ever lived.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Like most top wrestlers, Karelin had a number of severe injuries through his career. A notable example is his 1996 Summer Olympic finals match against Matt Ghaffari. Karelin had come off a shoulder surgery and looked vulnerable against a strong Ghaffari, who was able to repel Karelin's efforts to lift and slam him, forcing Karelin to change strategy and use all of his skill and experience to defend a 1–0 lead.
  • Genius Bruiser: Holds a PhD, a law degree and is currently a politician in Russia. His PhD was devoted to countermeasures against suplex throws (Russian: Методика проведения контрприемов от бросков прогибом), and habilitation to preparation of top-level wrestlers (Russian: Система интегральной подготовки высококвалифицированных борцов). Basically he has a PhD in wrestling.
  • Guest Fighter: He was brought to RINGS for Akira Maeda's retirement match.
  • Heroic Build: Unlike many of the other superheavyweight Greco-Roman wrestlers of his time who were mostly examples of Stout Strength, Karelin was lanky at 6ft 3, yet ripped and most of his weight came from pure muscle. Akira Maeda compared Karelin's muscles to the ones on racehorses.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Was actually losing to Bulgarian wrestler Rangel Gerovski in the finals of the 1988 Olympics, but with 15 seconds left, he lifted Rangel with his famous Karelin Lift to win his first Olympic gold medal.
  • Husky Russkie: The guy over Fedor Emelianenko in some photo they have together.
  • I Know Greco-Roman Wrestling: He didn't just know it, many consider him the greatest ever. He also trained in boxing when he was in school and sambo when he was in the army.
  • Leotard of Power: An amateur wrestling one.
  • Living Legend: Of Greco-Roman wrestling.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Is pretty much famous for this.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The best possible example. He has responded to accusations of steroid use by passing every test ever asked of him.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He is an enthusiastic fan of opera and ballet.
  • Red Baron: "The Experiment", "The Russian King Kong", "The Russian Bear", "Aleksander the Great", "Reichō-rui Saikyō no Otoko" ("The Strongest Man of The Primates"), "Asfal'toukladchik" ("The Asphalt Paver").
  • Respected by the Respected: It is known that several wrestlers who have faced Karelin, even high-level ones, have let themselves get lifted up and thrown by him out of fear that he would lift them up anyway and injure them in the fall.
  • Stone Wall: Aside from his strength that helped him to overpower his opponents, he was also a great defensive wrestler and for 6 years never even lost a point in competition.
  • Suplex Finisher: His Signature Move was the Karelin Lift, a sort of modified deadlift gutwrench suplex. When properly executed, it awarded Karelin 5 points per throw, the maximum awarded in Greco-Roman wrestling.
  • Training from Hell: When he broke his leg at the age of 15, his rehabilitation consisted of running through the Siberian woods and rowing a wooden rowboat until his hands bled.
  • Warrior Poet: He writes poems in his spare time.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Literally, in his rematch with Igor Rostorotsky. He had that as well a concussion, but unlike most examples of the trope, he won and did so by pinning him, the first man to ever do so.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted, he once joked that his toughest opponent was his refrigerator, which he had to carry up eight flights of stairs by himself to get it into his apartment.
  • Wrestling Family: His son Ivan is also a Greco-Roman wrestler.

Vladimir Klementiev

Yuri Kochkine

Andrei Kopylov

Vladimir Kravchuk

Achmed Labasanov

"There isn't a lot of text out there on Labasanov, which is surprising given his spread in the turn of the century in MMA: He was a multiple time Russian and European Pankration champion, a champion wrestler, a two-time entrant into the RINGS King of Kings tournament, and a one-time Pride veteran. But he made his bones in the sport in the days before the internet made every fighter a public figure, and Dagestan wasn't quite on the international radar the way it is these days."
— A profile of Labasanov from a Fire Pro Wrestling user Carl CX from

Pavel Orlov

Vladimir Pogodin

Vasily Shvaya

  • The Apprentice: To Vasiliy Troyanovich Perchik.
  • Downer Ending: Died in 2001 while saving someone's life from the Kama River, he was 38 years old.
  • Hidden Depths: At the beginning of 1996, he created the public organization Vozrozhdeniye to help young athletes and sports veterans organize sports competitions.
  • Husky Russkie
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: One of the best sambist of his generation and appeared in RINGS for one match against Masayuki Naruse, which he won, but for some reason left right after.
  • I Know Sambo: Was the captain of the USSR national sambo team, a multiple national champion and medalist, a 1992 European champion, and a 1988 World Champion with a silver in 1986 and bronze in 1984.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Spell My Name with an "S": This name is usually written as Vassili Chvaia on English sites.
  • Teen Genius: Became a Master of Sport in sambo at 15 years old.

Sergei Sousserov

Gennady Yaremenko

  • The Apprentice: To Ivan Chertov.
  • Cool Teacher: Was the former head coach of Judo Club "Tiger" in Odessa. He is now president and a coach of the Judo Club "Randori" in Odessa.
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, he is actually Ukrainian.
  • I Know Judo: A Youth European and World champion in 1983, a two time Youth USSR champion in 1983 and 1985, won bronze medals in 1987, 1989, and 1990 in the regular USSR Championships with a silver in 1988, won many international A-class tournaments, and was one of the first national champions of a newly independent Ukraine. He also trained in sambo and was a Games of the Peoples of the USSR in judo and sambo in 1986.
  • Jobber: Had only one match against Volk Han in RINGS.
  • Mighty Glacier: Strong but slow.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Represented the USSR before Ukraine gained independence.
  • Red Baron: "Gigant".
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His surname was written by Dave Meltzer as Yaryumenko and can also be spelt as Yaromenko and even Eremenko for some reason.
  • Stout Strength: Had a wide waist and competed in the absolute class in Judo, a division usually occupied by hefty dudes.
  • The Unpronounceable: Which is why he was introduced as Gennady Gigant.

Yakov Zobnin

Nikolai Zouev

  • Affectionate Nickname: "Zouev-Sensei" by the RINGS Japan guys.
  • The Apprentice: To Alexander Fedorov and was his main assistant.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy / Token Evil Teammate: Possibly the only RINGS Russia guy ever in getting a yellow card on purpose.
  • Badass Grandpa: Was 35 when he debuted in RINGS and was the oldest member of the original team.
  • Badass Teacher: For Russian Top Team and is mentioned to have been significant in training Fedor Emelianenko for his fights against Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. He also taught sambo to the RINGS Japan guys.
  • Beard of Evil
  • Boring, but Practical: Was an orthodox sambist compared to Volk Han and Andrei Kopylov, though he did show bits of brilliant matwork whenever he could. He also preferred utilizing quick and mostly strengthless freestyle wrestling takedowns instead of spectacular slams, throws, or suplexes.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Wore long black tights in all his RINGS matches, he added a black singlet in the second half of his career there.
  • Cool Teacher: Had his own sambo school. He also founded and developed the "RINGS Hotel" in Yekaterinburg which also acts as a martial art sports complex facility.
  • Escape Artist: Was an expert in reversing holds and quite a few of his victories in RINGS came from doing just that.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Threw spinning backfists and back kicks on occasion, though they usually didn’t connect and he mostly just used them to get a reaction from his opponents.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Volk Han.
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, he had a similar build to the lean Volk Han.
  • I Know Sambo: Part of the Russian national team, winner of several championships in Japan, and won bronze medals at several USSR Championships. He also did freestyle wrestling in middle and high school.
  • Insistent Terminology: Claims to represent what the Japanese referred to as "Kinjite Nashi no Sambo", which roughly translates to "Sambo Without Rules" compared to his fellow stablemates "Command Sambo".
  • Lean and Mean: Downplayed as he was this compared to most of the other guys in RINGS Russia when he debuted in RINGS, he slowly gained weight over the years.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Averted in pure strength, as he had a lean build, but straight in fighting ability.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Is the least remembered senior member of Russian Top Team since he never competed in MMA.
  • The Rival: To Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov and the rest of the sambo players in RINGS (except Chris Dolman, who was unimpressed by him). He went to the extent of beating Han in a worked sambo match.
  • The Sneaky Guy: His style of sambo included many feints and subtle setups to submissions and counters compared to Han’s complex and artisanal control approach and Kopylov’s explosive blitz.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Zouev or Zuev?
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Was part of the Russian "B" team along with Andrei Kopylov and Vladimir Klementiev for the World Mega Battle Tournament of 1998.
  • Warrior Poet: Write poems and essays in his spare time.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Compared to his teammates, Zouev wasn’t very strong or athletically gifted and already past his prime when he debuted in RINGS. He made up for that with a deceptive grappling acumen.

The Original Top Team

Sergei Apasov

Mikhail Avetisyan

Denis Baykov

Arsen Bayrambekov

  • Ax-Crazy: In real life he killed 4 people from 2003 to 2014 as sacrifices to Dagestan pagan gods and another 2 as he was hired to do. In March 2017, Verkhnepyshminsky City Court sentenced him to 14 years in prison.
  • Cool Teacher: Was once a coach for the Russian Thai Boxing Federation.
  • Husky Russkie
  • I Know Muay Thai: Allegedly, he was a champion of Dagestan, a national championship medalist, and more than once he was a champion of the Sverdlovsk region.
  • Jobber
  • Lawman Gone Bad: Was a former policeman.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Psycho for Hire: Was paid to murder at least 2 people. The other 4 were for "religious" reasons.
  • Serial Killer: A real one, he killed at least 4 people in a ritualistic manner to Dagestan pagan gods.

Alexander Bezruchkin

  • The Apprentice: To Anatoly Ivanovich Vinik and Vasyl Vrazovsky.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is the head of the "Konfederatsiya Yedinoborstv" ("Confederation of Martial Arts"). He is also the director of the "Tsentra Sportivnoy Podgotovki" ("Center for Sports Training").
  • Bald of Awesome
  • Husky Russkie
  • I Know Greco-Roman Wrestling: A member of the Russian national team from 1993 to 2004, won bronze at the 1993 Baltic Sea Games, a 1995 and 2000 national champion with bronze medals in 1994, 1997, and 1999 and a silver medal in 1998, a 1995 bronze medalist and a 2000 and 2001 silver medalist at the Grand Prix of Ivan Poddubny, a 1996 Vantaa Cup champion, a 2003 Grand Prix of Germany champion, a 2001 European champion with a bronze in 1997 and placed 15th in 1999 and 5th in 2004, a 1993 and 1997 World Cup champion, and was a 2001 World Champion and placed 15th and 6th in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
  • Jobber
  • Leotard of Power: An amateur wrestling one.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Spell My Name with an "S": His name was spelt as Alexander Bezroutchkin in RINGS.

Andrei Byldin

Eduard Churakov

Oleg Danilevsky

Alexander Emelianenko

"Sasha will be the most threatening in the near future."
— Fedor Emelianenko

"My punches are like electric trains, if I miss, my opponent would catch a cold."
— Alexander Emelianenko

  • Affectionate Nickname: He is called "Sasha" by his family.
  • The Alcoholic: He likes to drink.
  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov, Nikolai Zouev, Mikhail Ilyukhin, Alexander Fedorov, Andrey Byldin, Nikolai Pitkov, Vladimir Voronov, and Aleksander Michkov.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Basically sums up his fight strategy.
  • Badass Beard: Sometimes lets his facial hair grow out.
  • Badass Family: His older brother is Fedor.
  • Bald of Awesome: Recently shaved his head.
  • Bash Brothers: With his real life brothers Fedor and Ivan. Not so much with Fedor anymore as it was revealed that they have not spoken to each other for 10 years, though he states this is because of the people Fedor hangs out with and does not blame him directly.
  • Big Little Brother: Is bigger than his older brother Fedor.
  • Black Sheep: He used to get into street fights in his youth and has the reputation of being a constant troublemaker. He is quick deny this and believes the media just wants to show he is a bad guy and Fedor is a good guy.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Has a stained relationship with his father after his parents divorced, he says only came back into their lives after hearing about their success and he started to calling his young brother, Ivan. Tried to teach him life lessons, then one time I couldn’t take it, he grabbed the phone and said "The lad is twenty years old, why are you teaching him like some school kid? You should’ve thought about it earlier." He states Fedor has a better relationship with their dad because the divorce happened when Fedor was in the army.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A lot of his wins come by KO or TKO in the first round.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He never competed in a RINGS event, he only trained with the RINGS Russia guys and cornered Fedor in his fights.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Most of his wins in MMA come from KO or TKO by punches.
  • Husky Russkie: His nationality is Russian, but ethnically he is Ukrainian.
  • I Let You Win: He claims he let his brother Fedor take the gold medals in at least three combat sambo tournaments as Fedor was more well known and older than him.
  • I Know Sambo: He started his formal sambo training when he joined elementary school. He is also a 1999 European Championships Sport Sambo Gold Medalist, a FIAS World Combat Sambo Championships Gold Medalist in 2003, 2004, and 2006, a Russian Combat Sambo National Championship in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2010, with a silver medal in 2012, a 2003 Moscow Open Combat Sambo Silver Medalist, a 2003 Union of Heroes Cup Combat Sambo Silver Medalist, a 2004 Dagestan Open Combat Sambo Silver Medalist and a 2010 SportAccord World Combat Games Combat Sambo Silver Medalist. He is also knows amateur wrestling, boxing and is a Master of Sport in Judo.
  • Jerkass: Was charged with sexual assault, "kidnapping" by withholding a passport, and the forced use of "narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances on his former housekeeper Polina Stepanova. He was out on parole after 18 months in prison.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Like his brother, he is of the Orthodox Christian faith.
  • Red Baron: "Red Devil", "The Grim Reaper", "The Warrior", "The Neo Emperor", "Irezumi no Kaminari" ("Tattooed Thunder").
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni / Sibling Yin-Yang: He is the red, Fedor's the blue.
  • Stout Strength: Has the Emelianenko pudginess.
  • Tagalong Kid: Was brought to Russian Top Team for being Fedor's little brother.
  • Tattooed Crook: Has tattoos all over his body and has been accursed as a Russian nationalist, equated with Roman Zentsov. He denies this and states that getting new tattoos is just a hobby to him and that they have no real meaning.

Zagir Gaydarbekov

Vasiliy Gorbonos

Sergei Ignatiev

Alan Karaev

  • Acrofatic: As a sumo wrestler, he is this, for the first few seconds of the fight anyway.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: He is basically a Russian version of Akebono in MMA, as both were huge and decorated sumo wrestlers who tried MMA, were put into fights with a few big names, and lost most of their fights.
  • The Apprentice: To Kazbek Zoloeva.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: In March 2016, he was elected President of the Sumo Federation of Russia.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Is a 7 time Arm Wrestling World Champion (with left and right arm), multiple time European and Russian National Champion, and has won many prestigious world tournaments.
  • Dummied Out: Did not fight in any RINGS events, he represented RINGS Russia in HERO'S and also wrestled for Big Mouth Loud.
  • The Giant: 6 ft 7 in and about 400 pounds of Russian mass.
  • Glass Cannon: Like most sumo wrestlers, he would start out a fight explosive, but he would quickly tire out and his defensive fighting wasn't great either.
  • Husky Russkie: The biggest guy to come out of RINGS Russia.
  • I Know Sumo Wrestling: An amateur sumo world champion in 2002, Russian national champion in 2003, and has won bronze and gold medals at the World Games.
  • Mighty Glacier: Big, strong and could get explosive in the first few seconds of a fight, but got tired easily.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Neck Lift: Head lift actually, in his Big Mouth Loud matches, his Finishing Move was an iron claw lifted into a slam.
  • Ramming Always Works: He's usually the one to takedown his opponent first in his fights due to this.
  • Red Baron: "The Russian Bear", "Hakai Chōjin" ("Destruction Superman").
  • Stout Strength: As a Russian sumo wrestler, this is a given.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Close to this, his legs were not small, but being a 400 pound sumo wrestler in his prime, his upper body dwarfed them.
  • Unrelated Brothers: He often gets mistaken as the brother or cousin of Russian-Ossetian kickboxer Ruslan Karaev due to their surnames and both are from areas in North Ossetia. They are good friends in real life however.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: He had little MMA training before going into his MMA career.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Wore MMA trunks with the colours of the Russian flag in his MMA debut against Gary Goodridge.

Sergei Kharitonov

"This Russian is too scary."
— Health Herring

"I was afraid, I did not have any hands or legs."
— Semmy Schilt, after his loss to Kharitonov at Pride 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.

  • The Ace: Of Russian Top Team after Fedor left.
  • The Apprentice: To Volk Han, Andrei Kopylov, Nikolai Zouev, Alexander Fedorov, and Mikhail Ilyukhin.
  • Badass Family: His father was a boxing trainer and also did skating, football, and long distance marathon running. His mother was a volleyball coach.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Fedor Emelianenko was one to him in Russian Top Team as his sparring partner, teaching him ground-and-pound and submissions on the ground.
  • Determinator: According to Mikhail Ilyukhin, key elements of Sergei's success are his willpower and unpredictability in the ring.
  • The Dreaded: He was feared for his powerful boxing and ground-and-pound techniques.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His fight with Semmy Schilt, where he brutalized the big Dutchman with ground-and-pound. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and even Fedor Emelianenko were at a loss for words and were unable to hide their surprise after the fight.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Most of his wins in MMA come from KO's and TKO's by punches.
  • Hero Killer: Has beaten like Murilo Rua, Semmy Schilt, Pedro Rizzo, Alistair Overeem, and Andrei Arlovski in MMA. In Kickboxing, he has beaten Mighty Mo and Jérôme Le Banner.
  • Hidden Depths: Graduated from a high school with a specialization in music and once wanted to be an accordionist.
  • Husky Russkie
  • I Know Sambo: Trained at the Airborne Troops Academy, was a Russian Airborne Troops Sambo champion, a Eurasia Combat Sambo champion, a six time Russian Airborne Troops Hand-to-hand combat fight champion, a three time Russian Army combat fight champion, and a World Universal Fight Unifight champion. He first started with boxing and was a 2003 Central Asian Games silver medalist, a 2004 Asian Championships silver medalist and a 2007 Russian Championship silver medalist. He also regularly trains with the Russian national boxing and Sambo teams, as well as some freestyle wrestlers. He also added Muay Thai training to his regimen with Golden Glory, and, according to him, he even borrows some elements from Karate.
  • It's Raining Men: He was a paratrooper for the Russian Airborne Troops [Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii (VDV)]. He remained on active duty while training full-time with the Russian Top Team and even came to the ring in his full military uniform. He is now retired from the army.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Started training boxing seriously when he was ten or eleven years old, following an incident when a drunken adult passer-by broke up a scuffle between Sergei and another boy by lifting Sergei in the air, hitting him in the face and cutting his eyebrow with that punch. The man justified his behavior by saying that Sergei should not have been hitting a grounded opponent.
  • Red Baron: "Paratrooper", "The Russian Mercenary", "The Siberian Tiger", "Shinigami Teishin" ("Death God Paratrooper"), "Russia-Gun Saikyō no Heishi/Otoko" ("Russian Army's Strongest Soldier/Man"), "Russia no Reitetsu Ningen Kyōki" ("Russian Coolheaded Human Weapon").

Roman Kostenikov

Igor Kovalev

Vladimir Kuramenchev

Alexander Michkov

Ruslan Mirzoev

Sergey Miserva

Alexei Motorin


Andrei Pashkin

Igor Perminov

Nikolai Pitkov

Andrei Reznik

Viktor Rudova

David/Eldanis Safarov

Achmed Sagidgusenov

Alexei Saninkov

Alexander Skrypnikov

Konstantin Uriadov

Vladimir Voronov

Igor Vovchanchyn

"Pride Fighting legend Igor Vovchanchyn was so bad ass and fun to watch."
— Dana White

"If I had fists like that, I would've never grappled."
— Helio Gracie

  • The Ace: Has the second longest win streak in MMA with 36 wins.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Was to PRIDE what Chuck Lidell was to the UFC. They were strikers who used their wrestling backgrounds to defend takedowns, forcing grapplers into boxing matches, essentially using grapplers' previous tactic against them and paving the way for the future striking aces like Mirko Cro Cop and Anderson Silva. They both also had ice themed nicknames.
  • The Apprentice: To his Kickboxing trainer Oleg Nicolaiavicha.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Is the vice-president of the Ukrainian Oriental Martial Arts Association.
  • Badass Biker: He is fond of biking and collaborates with the Kharkov bike-club "Street Warriors".
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Although he was scheduled to face Ken Shamrock at Pride 13, Vovchancyn faced Tra Telligman, as Shamrock had sustained a neck injury 2 weeks prior to the fight. Despite Igor being able to counterstrike, Telligman surprised him with a left straight which knocked Vovchanchyn down, allowing Tra control the rest of the fight and win the decision. This was the first time Igor had been outstruck, even if it was seen as an upset.
    • His fight with Mirko Filipovic, where Cro Cop KO'ed him with a head kick.
  • Blood Knight: Under his icy demeanor is a guy who loves to fight.
  • Cool Teacher: Is a MMA trainer now.
  • Counter Attack: He specialized in an aggressive counterpunching style in order to make up for his short reach.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Subverted, while he was primarily a kickboxer and based his MMA game around his punching power, he also had his sambo skills to position his opponents for ground-and-pound and was able to surprise many with his defensive guard and dexterity on the ground. It was true in his first MMA tournament though as that was before he trained in sambo.
  • Delinquents: He said that growing up, he caused trouble and got into street fights and different kinds of mischief. Due to his antics, there was a popular story in circulation, that whenever Igor became upset, the villagers would ring a bell in the center of town which would alarm everyone to stay in their houses until Igor calmed down. He later stated that this story was just a joke, although there was a bell in the center of town.
  • The Dreaded: Was considered one of the most dangerous strikers of his time, with 38 victories by knockout or technical knockout.
  • Eye Scream: Lost to Mikhail Ilyukhin by the chin to the eye submission.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: In his fight with Ricardas Rocevicius in RINGS, Ricardas requested that no punches were allowed in the fight, which Igor said was difficult to avoid, but since he was a kickboxer and not just a boxer, he won via leg kicks in the second round.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Retired at age 32, citing multiple injuries, including a right hand that remained seriously affected as of 2008. It has been speculated that due to this injury, his last few performances in his career were passive.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Wielded some of the hardest punches in MMA history but varied his standup with soccer kicks, knee strikes and various other techniques.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Was never official part of RINGS Russia or Russian Top Team, but he did train with them to improve his sambo skills. He also had only one fight in RINGS against Ricardas Rocevicius at RINGS Lithuania: Bushido Rings 3.
  • Hero Killer: Beat guys like Gary Goodridge, Akira Shoji, Carlos Barreto, Mark Kerr, Francisco Bueno, Alexander Otsuka, Kazushi Sakuraba, Daijiro Matsui, Enson Inoue, Nobuhiko Takada, Gilbert Yvel, Masaaki Satake, Valentijn Overeem, Bob Schrijber, Dan Bobish, Katsuhisa Fujii, Kazuo Takahashi, and Yuki Kondo.
  • Hidden Depths: He runs a Ukrainian cafe-bar called 'Champion'. He also runs a charity foundation with his name on it.
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted, he is Ukrainian.
  • I Know Kickboxing: A former member of the Ukrainian national team and was a world champion. He also trained in boxing under Oleg Ermakov and was a national champion, he also trained in sambo under Alexander Fedorov.
  • Instant Expert: Sort of, he won his first boxing championship after only a few months of training with even his coach trying to dissuade him as he felt he wasn’t ready yet.
  • Living Legend: He is widely considered an MMA legend, and in Ukraine he even has a tournament named after him, the Igor Vovchanchyn Cup.
  • Passing the Torch: His head kick KO by Mirko Filipovic is considered a 'passing of the torch' as Vovchanchyn had split his last 8 fights in Pride with a record of 3-5 (1-3 in his last 4), and it elevated the newer striking sensation Cro Cop into an Interim Heavyweight Championship fight with Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira.
  • The Pete Best: He is this to fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop. He was the first kickboxer to have sustained success against grappling artists in the mid 90s, was universally feared as a striker in the late 90s, and got a scary number of victories over established names. However, because his success happened in the "Dark Ages" of MMA, only hardcore fans remember him.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Is quite short for a Ukrainian at 5ft 7in, despite his small size, Vovchanchyn was known for his toughness and strength, leading Nobuhiko Takada to call him a "strongman".
  • Red Baron: "Ice Cold", "Ukraine Freight Train", "Kita no Saishū Heiki" ("The Last Weapon of The North").
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential / Took a Level in Badass: After he lost by submission in his first MMA tournament to sambist Andrei Besedin, he trained under the legendary Alexander Fedorov to improve his grappling skills.
  • Use Your Head: Defeated Nick Nutter at the IAFC - 1st Absolute Fighting World Cup Pankration event using the back of his head.
  • The Worf Effect: Suffered his only clean KO defeat to Mirko Filipovic via head kick at Pride Total Elimination 2003. "Cro Cop" brought it to a close 1:29 into the first round, authoring one of Pride’s most iconic finishes. He also got worfed by Ernesto Hoost in a Kickboxing match, Mark Coleman by knees, Mario Sperry by arm-triangle choke, Quinton Jackson by injury, and Alistair Overeem by standing guillotine choke.

Victor Yerohin


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