Russian sambo specialist and former protege of the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Eldar Eldarov, is all set to take center stage as Brave Combat Federation holds its first big MMA event in Russia.
The event, Brave CF 46, takes place Saturday at the WOW Arena in Sochi, and features Eldarov in the night’s main event, where he will take on Brazilian former UFC welterweight Leonardo Mafra.
Eldarov is the promotion’s super-lightweight (165-pound) champion, and he’ll put his title on the line against Mafra in a battle that has been billed as Russian sambo versus Brazilian vale tudo.
Under the tutelage of Nurmagomedov, Eldarov earned the silver medal in the combat sambo world championships, as well as the Russian combat sambo title. He later transitioned to MMA where, under Abdulmanap, he eventually became a world champion with Bahraini promotion Brave CF.
Hailing the ongoing influence of his former mentor, Eldarov said: “A coach is a second father for an athlete. This man was with me since I was in school – and every important moment in my life, he was with me.
“Until now I feel like the result of his work, what he gave me, will help me in my life, for all of my life, [but] not only me. My students will get what I got from him and they will give what I gave them. It’s legacy.”
Eldarov will take on Brazil’s Mafra, who is looking to defend the honor of Brazilian martial arts and capture the biggest title of his martial arts career.
Mafra, whose fighting lineage traces back to the famed Chute Boxe academy that produced the likes of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Wanderlei Silva, is looking to score a win by any means, but admitted that a knockout win is never far from his mind.
“I always was a fighter looking for a knockout, because that’s how I learned [to fight],” he said.
“But now we manage to get the knockout in the best way possible and the safest way possible. We know how to fight in every area of MMA and that’s what I try to do.
“My strategy will always to be looking for the knockout.”
Also set for action on the fight card is former UFC flyweight title challenger Ali “Puncher King” Bagautinov, who returns to the sport after a year away against fellow Russian Oleg Lichkovakha, and Roman Bogatov, who is looking to continue his career after being cut by the UFC after just one fight.