Nikita Krylov, (aka “The Miner”) born March 7th, 1992, is a Ukrainian mixed martial artist of Russian descent from the Luhansk province of South-Eastern Ukraine. He is a former FNG (Russian Mixed Martial Arts organisation), Light Heavyweight Champion and the Gladiators FC 2 Heavyweight Tournament Winner.
The 30 year-old Krylov currently competes in the light heavyweight division (186-205 lb) of the UFC where, as of March 21, 2022, he is ranked no.11.
By the age of 10, the Ukrainian was possessed by the intrigue of martial arts and began to train (like his father before him), in Kyokushin Karate – the stand-up fighting style rooted in the philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and regimented, hard training. By the year 2012, Krylov made the transition into mixed martial arts.
Nikita Krylov made his MMA debut on July 27th, 2012, winning via TKO against Alexander Umrikhin at West Fight 4 in Donetsk, Ukraine.
The blockbuster show put on by “The Miner” continued as he compiled a majestic streak of 12 victories in a span of less than 5 months – winning his 12th fight against Denis Simkin on December 22nd, 2012 at the Gladiators Ukraine promotion.
Krylov was the youngest heavyweight when he was signed by the UFC in the year 2013. At 21, he sped past Max Holloway as the youngest fighter on the UFC roster.
He felt honoured along with a sense of responsibility to raise himself as an example “for all the young guys I want to show that even though we may be lacking in experience and routine, we can make up for it with a big heart and an undying fighting spirit,”. His voice galvanised a “yes we can” attitude of steel igniting the infinite potential of young fighters.
After his long stint of 4 years in the UFC, “The Miner” moved onto the Eurasia Fight Nights / Fight Nights Global promotion to mine more championship gold. He defeated the FNG Light Heavyweight Champion and his former UFC fellow, Fabio Maldonado via KO at Fight Nights Global 87 on May 19th, 2018.
A controversy exploded when the Ukraine media reported that Nikita Krylov, whilst training in Kyiv bore the Russian flag on his uniform. However, he later declared that he was against the deadly Russian invasion of Ukraine. Krylov actually comes from Luhansk – a self-proclaimed breakaway state located in the Donbas (a territory internationally recognised as part of Ukraine with the sole exception of the Russian Federation) region within Ukraine.
Although Krylov lost his most recent bout against UK’s Paul Craig on March 19th, 2022 at UFC Fight Night 204, assuredly like all Ukrainians he’s not about to quit anytime soon and he’ll have his own ‘uprising’ day again…
And so…without any further heat of the political kind, let’s dig into Nikita “The Miner” Krylov’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Stjepan Bekavac – Fight Nights Global 68 (June 2, 2017)
After being released from the UFC, Krylov signed with FNG in 2017 and locked horns with Stjepan Bekavac for his FNG debut.
Catching a kick midway, at 30 seconds into round 1, the Ukrainian storm strolls Stjepan towards the cage and executes a lethal takedown which saw Nikita taking control and harnessing fist power on Stjepan’s face, leaving him bleeding.
The next step taken by Nikita was to lock in a guillotine choke, that left the fading Stjepan with no option than to tap out at 53 seconds of round 1 – as referee Herb Dean ran in to separate them – formally giving Nikita Krylov the match win via submission.
This match was ranked as the 88th Best MMA Submission of the Year, for 2017.
4. Vs. Emanuel Newton – Fight Nights Global 77 (Oct. 13, 2017)
“The Miner” took on “The Hardcore Kid” from the United States and inched closer to earn his spot for the FNG Light Heavyweight Championship.
In round 1, The Ukrainian came out full throttle, firing dragon balls in the form of his fiery fists (watch carefully at 30 seconds in).
Newton was unable to stand his ground, and his legs were shaky. Each shot silenced any shred of animus and attitude The Hardcore Kid had.
Nikita unloaded with hardcore striking, and a heavy knee to Newton’s face finished the game. Nikita Krylov won the match via KO – (knee) at 0:43 of round 1.
3. Vs. Fabio Maldonado – Fight Nights Global 87 (May 19, 2018)
After dismantling Newton, it was the turn of Fabio “Caipira de Aço” Maldonado and the FNG Light Heavyweight Championship was up for grabs.
To start, the Ukrainian fighter appeared super pumped up and unintentionally smashed his opponent’s groin area whilst looking for a low kick. Fabio was laid out with that kick but managed to get back on his feet after a sharp ache that seemed to literally send him to ‘the heavens’ – not exactly the warmest match welcome!
Firing from all angles, the Ukrainian was poised to overpower proceedings with a potent, skull-crushing boot at 25 seconds into round 1.
Fabio now on the backfoot, was more defensively guarding his groin than offensively striking out with shots. A raging, brutal strike from Fabio gave “Caipira de Aço” a measure of revenge and a breath of satisfaction.
At 2:44 into round 1, Fabio got the guillotine locked in. The grip was not so firm however and Nikita slipped away much to Maldonado’s chagrin, who now had to contend with excessive, ruthless striking. This came in the form of steel elbows and short arm jabs, that wreaked bloody havoc on his face and head.
What a shot next! Springing towards his opponent, Nikita fired off a spinning back kick, at 2:30 into round 2. Fabio falls back after absorbing the painful blow – he probably saw the entire fight flash before his eyes…
A deadly right hand from Krylov ended the title reign of Fabio Maldonado at 3:33 of round 2. The referee, Jan Vobornik, quickly rushed in to aid Maldonado as he lay unconscious on the canvas not moving so much as an inch.
Nikita Krylov won the contest via KO (punch) and was crowned the new FNG Light Heavyweight Champion.
This match is ranked as the 80th Best MMA Knockout of the Year, for 2018.
2. Vs. Ed Herman – UFC 201 (July 30, 2016)
Here, Krylov took on the American fighter, Ed “Short Fuse” Herman.
To start Krylov got to the centre of the octagon and stretched, opening his arms fully before going for a full frontal assault on his enemy.
A left-right combination by Nikita punished Herman and forced him towards the side of the cage for an emphatic grappling assault culminating in heavy knees and body jabs at 0:45 into round 1.
Ed now found his timing and with a blazing right hook drops Krylov to the canvas for the first time in the match at 2:30 into round 1.
Then Krylov magnificently, just literally pushed Ed away to sneak through to the clinch.
At 3 minutes into the round, Krylov launched himself and blasted Ed with a brutal high kick, knees to the body, and a barrage of high-velocity punches aiming to destroy his opponent.
Now, with the second round underway, the Ukrainian cuts in with a spinning right hand and a high kick to the head which blows Ed’s fuse out at 0:40 of round 2.
Referee Marc Goddard hurriedly checks in and immediately signals for the doctors to provide Herman aid.
Nikita Krylov won the match via round 2 KO (head kick). This match was ranked as the 22nd Best MMA Knockout of the Year, for 2016.
1. Vs. Ovince Saint Preux – UFC 236 (April 13, 2019)
These two locked horns 5 years after their first encounter at UFC 171 where Ovince emerged victorious using a Von Flue (shoulder) choke.
This time Ovince had planned to beat Nikita Krylov more convincingly than the first time as stated in an interview with Ariel Helwani. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian fighter was all fired up to take revenge after his defeat.
To start, it seemed almost as if the match resumed from where it last ended, 5 years ago…
Krylov pushes Saint Preux back as he throws a conundrum of high kicks and lightning quick punches tearing Saint Preux to shreds at 0:20 into round 1.
Ovince races in to enforce a takedown and attempts to tangle up Krylov’s legs (shades of Khabib tying up McGregor!) but the Ukrainian spirit snuck out in no time to gain a neck lock as he had done so many times before – aiming to make his opponent submit under the anaconda-like squeeze of his breed of deadlock.
At 3:20 into round 1, Ovince pounced on his opponent delivering lethal elbows as he mounts over, after successfully flipping Krylov into another takedown.
The game turned in the next 10 seconds to witness the mighty Ukrainian resilience as Krylov once again stood his ground and blasted Ovince with heavy knees and high kicks.
Ukrainian force heavily dominated the first round dealing a heavy blow to Saint Preux’s expectations who was getting perplexed as to why he wasn’t performing at his best.
Krylov, now filled with fury, launched an insurgency, coming up with clenched fists to destroy his opponent with blow after blow, consisting of left-right combinations and jaw-dismantling high kicks at 0:22 into round 2.
The fighters clinched as the audience rose to their feet; Krylov charges in with a takedown as he drives Ovince hard into the canvas at 1:20.
Soon again to dominate, Krylov pounded lethal elbows to his opponent’s head before executing the RNC (rear naked choke).
The referee, Blake Grice hurriedly intervened at 2:30 of round 2 as he saw Ovince tap out.
Finally, the Ukrainian returned the favour in full, after a long, 5-year wait that was certainly, gratifyingly worth it.
This match was ranked the 54th Best MMA Submission of the Year, for 2019.
Krylov said in a post-fight interview that he was happy to avenge his first fight against Ovince and that he felt completely different this time around compared to 5 years prior.