Since the 20th century, Ukraine has had a prominent history in the discipline of martial arts. From World Wrestling Champion, Grigory Gamarnik, to two-time Judo World Champion, Daria Bilodid; from ONE Championship kickboxing champion, Roman Kryklia, to World Boxing Champions, The Klitschko brothers (Vitali and Wladimir) and not forgetting Vasiliy Lomachanko, these athletes are the epitome and backbone of Ukrainian willpower.
When the radically new sport of MMA began to extend its reach internationally in the mid-90s, it was only a matter of time before a combatant from Ukraine stood up to the challenge.
When kickboxer, Igor Vovchanchyn, broke through onto the scene in PRIDE Fighting Championships, his sheer dominance and dynamic presence in the ring paved the way for more Ukrainian martial artists from various backgrounds to take up the sport.
In recognizing the bravery of Ukraine at this time of extreme challenge, fighting Vladimir Putin’s deliberate, callous, and downright maniacal attempt to subjugate Ukraine by brute force, we highlight their finest mixed martial arts representatives. From their careers to their achievements, these are the among the elite of Ukrainian pride in the sport.
So, without further ado, let’s acknowledge and appreciate this unique breed in Ukrainian Warriors: Top 5 MMA Fighters!
5. Alyona Rassohyna
Born in Dnipro, Rassohyna began her professional MMA career in 2010, building up a 12-4 record consisting of 10, impressive round 1 armbar submissions.
This achievement was enough to make her a worthy contestant in the ONE Championship league in 2021.
Rassohyna’s first run for the promotion consisted of her back-and-forth confrontation with Stamp “Nong Stamp” Fairtex, the no.5-ranked fighter in the women’s atomweight division.
In their spirited feud, Fairtex’s striking prowess in Muay Thai contrasted with Rassohyna’s emphasis on grappling, yet the difference in approach from these two warriors made for engaging brawls in women’s atomweight history, with Rassohyna coming out on top in their first encounter with a guillotine choke at the last second of round 1.
Although she came up short in the Atomweight Grand Prix Quarter Finals, Rassohyna still has the bold momentum to continue her journey on the ONE Championship scene and will undoubtedly bounce back for more competition in the future.
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4. Nikita “The Miner” Krylov
Born in Krasnyi Luch, Luhansk, and fighting out of Donetsk, Ukraine, Nikita Krylov, aka “The Miner” is an unmitigated beast of the light heavyweight division.
Nikita is a black belt in Kyokushin Karate, presenting himself as a formidable striker and submission specialist, currently holding a 26-8 record, with a prodigious 25 wins by way of 10 knockouts and 15 submissions.
Nikita gave himself the nickname, “The Miner”, in honour of his family who worked as miners, as well as working as a miner himself, a job that Nikita describes as being “associated with power and character”.
Since his debut in the UFC in 2013, Nikita, has had remarkable battles with the best of the light heavyweight division, including Ovince Saint Preux, Emanuel Newton, Jan Błachowicz, Glover Teixeira, Johnny Walker and Magomed Ankalaev, The Miner now currently stands at no.9 in the UFC light heavyweight rankings.
With an indisputable eagerness to engage the enemy and the vigorous courage of a warrior, whenever Nikita steps into the octagon, you can guarantee that his wilful goal is to end the fight in an entertaining fashion.
Nikita will be fighting the Scottish Paul Craig this Saturday, 19th March at UFC Fight Night 204: Volkov vs. Aspinall, which will be held at the O2 Arena, London.
3. Maryna “Iron Lady” Moroz
Fighting out of Vilnohirsk, Ukraine, Maryna Moroz, aka “Iron Lady” (no relation to Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher) is a roaring addition to the UFC flyweight division.
Debuting in 2013, Moroz has stacked up a 11-3 record, with 6 wins coming by way of submission. Moroz made a stunning impression in her first UFC contest by submitting Joanne Calderwood with a first round armbar, winning herself a well-earned Performance of the Night.
Her recent scheduled fight against former training partner and rival, Mariya Agapova, demanded rigorous training preparation whilst also finding time to declare her loyalty and support for her fellow Ukrainians, as she denounced the Russian attack on her homeland.
It was clear from the get go that this was a fight she desperately wanted to win, not just for personal gain, but for her country.
On March 5, at UFC 272, “Iron Lady” demonstrated the fighting spirit of her people by finishing her rival with an arm-triangle choke, earning the Performance of the Night bonus, before giving a heart-warming speech to the UFC crowd.
Due to her sheer tenacity in the octagon, she has never been knocked out nor has she been forced to submit throughout her career, living up to her alias as the “Iron Lady” of Ukraine.
2. Yaroslav “Dynamo” Amosov
With an immaculate, zero-loss record Yaroslav Amosov, aka “Dynamo” has chalked up some incredible achievements in his 9-year MMA career.
Having won the World Combat Sambo championship 4 times, and since debuting at Bellator in 2018, Amosov has clean swept through the welterweight division through Erick Silva to David Rickels and Logan Storley.
In June 2021, whilst defending his imposing, undefeated 25-0 record, Dynamo overthrew Douglas “The Phenom” Lima to become the Bellator Welterweight World Champion.
Amosov is currently set to defend his title for the first time against the no.1-ranked Welterweight, Michael “Venom” Page on May 13th, 2022. Until then, however, Amosov has elected to stay and fight for his country alongside his fellow Ukrainians, including former Heavyweight Boxing champions Mayor Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko.
As he stands between the dreaded force of the Russian army and the heart of Kyiv, Dynamo is a true warrior with the strength and fearlessness of Ukrainian spirit abundant in his veins.
1. Igor “Ice Cold” Vovchanchyn
The oldest fighter on our list, Igor Vovchanchyn, is revered as one of the most dangerous, and thickly-muscled strikers of his time.
The essence to Igor’s style was his profound punching power, his pivotal counterpunches and utilizing his Combat Sambo throws to lay down some serious ground-and-pound, making him the toughest fighter to come out of Ukraine.
Being a former kickboxing champion, Igor made the leap to MMA in 1995, launching a reign of terror throughout the mid to late nineties, eventually debuting at Pride FC on its fourth PPV where he showcased some of the biggest knockout reels captivating fans in those heightened days of the promotion.
With such memorable bouts, including those with Gary Goodridge, Mark Kerr, Kazushi Sakuraba and Mark Coleman, Igor was known to take on any challenger despite his modest 5′ 8” (1.76m) stature.
Although his highlights may be outperformed by the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Wanderlei Silva, his contribution to the sport cannot be denied. With a 56-10 (1) record and 41 sensational knockouts, Igor has cemented an ice-cold legacy of awesome power and sheer intimidation.