The long-awaited rematch between elite Russian featherweights is finally (almost) upon us!
“Motivator” Marat Balaev will return after almost one year away to take on the man he beat in 2016 for the vacant ACB Featherweight Championship; Yusup “Wolf” Raisov.
— #ACB80 (@ACB_League) February 12, 2018
Marat Balaev vs. Yusup Raisov featherweight title unification rematch set for May
A lifelong grappler, Marat Balaev (8-0) enters the contest having not competed since May of 2017. In the aforementioned fight, Balaev took on Adlan Bataev in the ACB 61 main event with Balaev’s featherweight strap on the line. After an absolutely grueling 25-minutes, the 42-year-old Balaev came out victorious via narrow split decision.
Prior to the war with Bataev, Marat Balaev had taken on his upcoming opponent – Yusup Raisov – for the then-vacant ACB featherweight title. The belt was made vacant after the only featherweight champion in the promotion’s history – Zabit Magomedsharipov – had signed with the UFC.
Yusup Raisov (12-1) may be a whopping 20 years the junior of Balaev, but he is shockingly more experienced in MMA. With runs in M-1, ProFC, and primarily ACB, Raisov started his career a perfect 9-0 before losing a unanimous decision to stellar grappler Balaev at ACB 50.
Following his first and only career loss at the hands of upcoming foe Balaev, Raisov started yet another win streak, going 3-0 in 2017. He went on to finish Valdines Silva in the first round. Prior to this, Silva had won the Jungle Fight Featherweight Championship by knocking out the highly-touted Jonas Bilharinho and had only ever lost to Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Raisov then went on to defeat former WSOF title-challenger Luis Palomino and most recently picked up a second-round submission win vs. Alexander Peduson in December.
Balaev and Raisov were originally supposed to have their featherweight title rematch in December, but an injury to Balaev forced Raisov to take a fight with Peduson on short-notice. This is when the interim title was created.
If you’re interested in watching the initial meeting between Balaev and Raisov at ACB 50, you can do so right here. The rematch will take place on May 5, though the event has not officially been announced yet.