Undefeated Dagestani Prospect Picks PFL

January 1, 2024
7 months

Signing Murad Ramazanov won’t be enough to solidify the PFL’s brand. But signing the undefeated Russian prospect is the first step in what could be later viewed as a step toward challenging the UFC’s position as the top MMA brand. The PFL convinced Ramazanov to flee from ONE Championship and sign with them.

It’s an exciting time of transition for the PFL. The company is rolling out an aggressive expansion that includes more regional competitions and a women’s specific fight division. Many questions remain about how the PFL can stay solvent as it restructures its business. Previously, the PFL had a season-long structure where champions were crowned every year. The question for PFL as it signs new prospects, coupled with the fighters it got by acquiring Bellator, is how it will utilize fighters like Ramazanov.

But bringing in exciting young talent should be the game plan for the PFL. With ties to some UFC greats, there is a pedigree that Ramazanov has in his training. Young fighters like Ramazanov need to develop into stars. Part of the criticism of Bellator was that too many washed-up UFC veterans were competing.

Ramazanov Has Taken Time to Climb to Top

Currently, Ramazanov is best known for being one of the training partners of UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. But Ramazanov has been working on building his reputation. Over his first 12 fights in various promotions, Ramazanov has compiled an 11-0 record with one no-contest.

Several reports among MMA news sites show that Ramazanov was born in Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia. He would soon find his way into combat sports and go 5-0 as a fighter on the amateur circuit.

During that time frame, Ramazanov fought at middleweight, featherweight, and featherweight. He started his professional MMA career in 2014. After winning his first eight fights, Ramazanov worked his way up to fighting with ONE Championship.

Time in ONE Championship Ends in Disappointment

Ramazanov won his first three fights in ONE Championship by collecting one knockout and two decisions. He was then put in a high-profile fight against one of the promotion’s top free agents. ONE brought in Roberto Soldic, who was a two-time champion in KSW. The fight, which took place on Dec. 3, 2022, in Pasay, Philippines, was a significant disappointment.

Both men would come out looking to strike. Ramazanov did end up striking, but he landed an accidental knee to Soldic’s groin that rendered him unable to continue. Soldic’s injury was so bad he ended up having to get surgery to repair a hernia made worse by the blow.

Reasons for Leaving ONE Unclear

Ramazanov’s manager announced his move to the PFL. He made it clear that Ramazanov would be willing to compete at any weight class that needed him. There are some rumors that a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, indicated that there may be some issues at ONE.

Ali Abdelaziz sent out a message that didn’t name a promotion but said there was one who was “bullying fighters.” One of the organization’s former champions, Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes, advised fighters to think twice before joining ONE, which hasn’t held many MMA fights as of late.

Can Ramazanov Flourish in Season Format?

One question that any fighter who makes the jump to PFL must ponder is how they will handle the rigors of fighting four times a year. The PFL’s gimmick to separate its brand from other MMA organizations was that it had regular seasons and playoffs, like American team sports. Most fighters who win the championship have to compete four times within a year.

While the format gives fans a chance to see their favorite fighters more, it is also difficult for competitors to avoid taking bumps and bruises that keep them out of the lineup. A few fighters have won as injury replacements and didn’t have to do all four bouts, but the schedule is a grind.

There is some thought that the PFL will make changes since acquiring Bellator. With a larger roster, the PFL will want to keep fighters active. Ramazanov hasn’t been the busiest fighter. Ramazanov didn’t fight in 2023 but only fought once in 2021 and 2022. Transitioning to a heavier workload could be difficult.

Ready to Take on a Top Opponent

Ramazanov has already been active, letting the PFL’s matchmakers know he is ready to work. Former Bellator champion Gegard Mousasi is looking to return to competition sooner rather than later. Mousasi said that former UFC standout and current PFL welterweight Derek Brunson has already turned down a fight with him.

Ramazanov has already been on social media to let Mousasi know he would be interested in squaring up. Mousasi has a 49-9 record in his career. He won the Bellator middleweight championship in October 2020 by beating Douglas Lima by a decision. 

Mousasi also defended the championship twice with knockout victories over John Salter and Austin Vanderford. However, the  38-year-old Dutch fighter is on a two-fight losing streak. If PFL would allow Ramazanov to fight him, it would be a good test of his skill set.

PFL Needs to Live Up to Talk

The PFL hopes to form a Champion’s League of MMA. The promotion must prove that it can be a box office and pay-per-view success. UFC CEO Dana White mocked PFL when it purchased Bellator, saying neither organization had any primary following or sold tickets. The UFC has made a living crushing the hopes of rival MMA organizations.

Whoever guides the PFL’s future will know that the financials will likely be rough early on. If the PFL survives, signing young stars like Ramazanov will be necessary. If the PFL tries to go the Bellator route and bring in former UFC stars, the perception may be that it is once again a lesser version of the more prominent organization, according to MMA breaking news.

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