Fighter of Interest: Petr Yan

Petr Yan
"No Mercy" Petr Yan finishes off Matheus Mattos in his ACB bantamweight title bout. Photo courtesy of ACB.

Out of the brutal Siberian winter comes a formidable bantamweight in Tiger Muay Thai‘s  Petr Yan (8-1 MMA).

Trained as a boxer, Yan has quickly developed into a dangerous Muay Thai stylist with an overwhelming, physical clinch game and grappling attack. After winning Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB)‘s bantamweight title, Yan arrived on the world stage. This weekend, UFC fans will be introduced to “No Mercy”: a crafty, punishing striker with the heart of a lion.

Through brief analysis and plenty of GIFs as always, we will relive Yan’s Russian regional reign of terror.

This is Fighter of Interest, where underrated, under the radar, or underappreciated fighters from an upcoming event are brought to light.

In training you can see Yan’s swagger and depth of skill. In the fight, it’s a whole different level of ferocity.

UFC Fight Night 132
Fighter of Interest: Petr Yan

As a martial artist, Yan is a sponge. He has grown immensely throughout his four years as a pro, developing a versatile spectrum of techniques and tactics. He is an impossibly hard worker, and it has made him an impressive athlete. As a man, 25-year-old Yan’s philosophies fit those of a future world champion.

My goal isn’t just to be part of the UFC. I want to showcase my skills, my character, and my Siberian spirit.”

Not to mention, he walks out to DMX.

Early on, Yan developed a comprehensive outside kickboxing game. With great patience, he would freeze opponents with his icy gaze before exploding into a combination or rear power kick.

“No Mercy” demonstrated the force of his strikes emphatically in his professional debut.

This was a rather abrupt ending after a contentious three-round affair.

Observe Yan’s skills transform and progress over seven fights. There’s still time to climb aboard the war wagon.

–vs. Renato Velame–

In just his second professional MMA fight, Yan took on a veteran grappler in Brazil’s Renato Velame (23-8 MMA) at ACB 14. The bout was a quarterfinal of the bantamweight contender tournament.

Immediately it was Yan stalking Velame, loaded like a spring. Throwing nothing but power, Yan bided his time, measuring the movements of Velame for bursting strike entries. Many of Velame’s attempts to initiate grappling were foiled by Yan’s shocking strength in the clinch.

Velame was a grown-ass man with well over twenty fights at that point. Getting ragdolled by a kid must be demoralizing.

Yan employed pronounced, Taekwondo-style stance switches throughout the fight. From the closed stance, he leaned on chopping outside low kicks. In the open stance, Yan repeatedly blasted Velame with round kicks to the body.

Also noteworthy were the first signs of Yan’s clinch fighting. He expertly punches in and out of tie-ups here in just his second fight.

Beaten and nearly broken, Velame slowed considerably. Smelling blood, Yan started to have some fun. Bouncing in and out, he threw a variety of smooth techniques with confidence. It was quite the showcase.

This most impressive thing here is that Yan’s pace has actually increased throughout three rounds.

It was the kind of performance you look for in a young striker, he was able to frustrate grappling attempts from a strong, experienced fighter and let go on the feet. Velame has since won four straight.

–vs. Kharon Orzumiev–

To be frank, Yan’s semifinal opponent was a step down in competition. Although Kharon Orzumiev submitted the 8-1 Ilfat Amirov in the quarters in less than one minute, that bout was his professional debut.

Perhaps intimidated by the pressuring footwork of Yan, Orzumiev shot from the outside for a single leg. Yan’s sprawl left his opponent extended and exposed. With veteran savvy, he moved his opponent’s head to the outside and snatched up a guillotine choke.

The mohawk was a really good look for Yan, I’d welcome its return.

Seconds later, Orzumiev was asleep and Yan was a tournament finalist. Orzumiev has since won two consecutive bouts, both with ACB.

–vs. Murad Kalamov–
Performance of the Night

A lengthy, sturdy grappler, Murad Kalamov was an impressive 5-0, submitting both of his seasoned opponents on the way to the finals. You may recognize him for his distinctive features, or his recent win over UFC veteran Takeya Mizugaki.

Murad Kalamov
“Murad’s got that look in his eye, Joe.”

At this point, Yan’s takedown defense was still a work in progress. Nevertheless, he fired off springing punches and kicks to all three levels. Most impressively, he tirelessly worked his way back to his feet without fail.

You’ve got to deal with this for three rounds, my man.

Kalamov learned his lesson. Prioritizing control, he was able to keep Yan on his back for the majority of the round, despite the striker’s frantic efforts to create space. When Yan escaped his clutches, Kalamov was exhausted.

Storming back, Yan’s relentless attack put Kalamov on the backfoot, forcing him to eventually pull guard. Yan effortlessly moved to mount, showing Kalamov why they call him “No Mercy”. He was saved by the bell.

Yet another fighter who is far more deserving of the nickname “Nonstop Action-Packed” than Dominique Steele.

Although Kalamov was able to have his moments of grappling success, he could not stand up to Yan’s pressuring assault. Once again, Petr Yan pushed forward like a madman, sending Kalamov crashing to the mat to close out the round.

RIP Murad Kalamov’s left knee.

All three judges awarded Yan the victory and a chance to win the vacant ACB bantamweight title. Kalamov has now scored four more impressive victories, his only loss coming to another title contender in Oleg Borisov (20-3-1 MMA).

–vs. Magomed Magomedov–
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT

This can’t wait. The referee in this fight was obviously Fedor. The wink confirms it.

THAT WINK.

Anyway. Yes, there is a fighter named Magomed Magomedov, and he is a force. Against stiff Russian competition in M-1 Global and ACB, Magomedov won ten consecutive fights to earn a shot at the vacant belt. A grappler by trade, Magomedov’s standup was quickly developing at DagFighter with the likes of Zabit Magomedsharipov.

At this point in his development, Yan had functional skills in all areas, but was chiefly a striker attempting to stay standing.

The immediate issue against Magomedov was whether or not to open up. Yan’s explosive, sudden striking entries were the perfect setup for Magomedov’s takedown game. Yan learned this quickly, as Magomedov baited him into throwing.

One moment that rear naked choke was completely locked in and Yan was flat. The next, he was escaping out the back and was on his feet.

However, Magomedov may have been disappointed to realize Yan was going to fight and attack on the ground. In fact, it became obvious in the first round that Yan was the stronger man in the clinch, adding efficacy to his standups.

Feeling his grappling success, Yan did not adjust the strategy. Predictably, Magomedov still had his timing on counter takedowns.

This dude is scrambling with and getting deep submissions on one of the best Russian bantamweight grapplers out there. His background is boxing and taekwondo. He’s 25. This was his sixth pro fight. Wrap your head around that.

Yan’s pace continued to climb, as Magomedov’s dwindled. As a result, his opportunities to scramble up and attack submissions became more frequent. It was tough to determine if Yan had won the second round, but he was giving Magomedov all he could handle in his own domain.

On the feet, it was a wash.

Yan opened the third round with a combination ending with a spinning hook kick to the liver. Magomedov pressed forward in an attempt to recover, but it only opened up the violent knees of Petr Yan in the double collar tie.

To add insult to injury, Yan went airborne on a high-amplitude double leg off the cage.

According to Jarred Brooks, one time out of ten Yan knocks himself with that takedown.

Magomedov is tough as hell. Still badly hurt to the body, he never stopped attempting takedowns to stave off the relentless mugging by Petr Yan.

Russians are notorious for abusing their livers. Magomedov took it too far.

As Magomedov recovered, and Yan finally began to tire, the bout tightened up once again. Both men had their moments. Magomedov was able to gain lengthy periods of top control, while Yan continued to stuff takedowns and even locked up a nice inverted triangle.

It’s not often you see that inverted triangle actually get locked up.

Completely spent, Magomedov bravely walked through Yan’s marauding offense to keep the fight in his realm. The end of the fight saw Yan switch off to an armbar off the back mount, chaining it into a deep triangle from full guard.

The disgusting image of a bloody Magomedov fighting to survive to the final bell was burned in the mind of anyone watching.

If you haven’t heard one million times from Joe Rogan, blood can make it really tough to hold on to submissions. AND LOOK AT ALL THAT BLOOD.

The fight was nearly impossible to score. After a split decision, it was Magomedov who walked away with the win and the bantamweight title. It would not be the last he saw of Petr Yan.

–vs. Ed Arthur–
Fight of the Night

A 7-1 BAMMA standout, this would be the lanky grappling specialist Ed Arthur‘s ACB debut. Arthur holds an early career submission win over UFC winner Nathaniel Wood.

As a tuneup fight, the bout with Arthur was planned as a showcase for Yan’s striking. He could easily stuff Arthur’s takedowns and light him up.

But Yan and his camp had different plans. Petr Yan is all about the attack. While he has impressive defensive savvy, he is most comfortable pushing like a madman. His skills had developed in a way that if he was facing an opponent who planned to grapple, Yan could turn the tables.

That is one of the most gorgeous throws I’ve seen in MMA.

It was Yan who initiated clinch exchanges, and pursued takedowns with aggression. From the underhook, he hit a beautiful hip toss into side control. There is no question that Tiger Muay Thai trains complete martial artists.

Due to the efficacy of his power kicking game, Yan had gotten away from his boxing roots in his recent bouts. Against Arthur, Yan was much more active on the lead and counter with his hands.

Credit to Arthur for soldiering on through Yan’s best shots.

As he grew more comfortable, we saw Yan playing with throws, transitions, and even the rare flying, spinning technique.

Just a casual jumping turning side kick to the dome.

But the third round was all business. Yan bullied Arthur in the clinch, tossing him around with ease. Confidence was so high, Yan even shot a double from space.

How does it feel to know your opponent is better than you at literally everything?

This was a statement performance. Petr Yan is not just a striker, and Magomed Magomedov would have to prepare for a different animal this time around.

–vs. Magomed Magomedov–
THE REMATCH

The championship rematch took place at the appropriately named ACB 57: Payback. Since his title victory, Magomedov defended his belt with a fourth-round submission over Oleg Borisov.

Magomedov realized his predicament in the first round. Yan would attack as usual, but his takedown defense had become much sturdier. That much could be predicted in a rematch against a developing striker. The larger issue was that when they tied up, it was Yan who became the grappling aggressor, and with great success.

Those footsweeps would become nightmare fuel for Magomed Magomedov.

Magomedov had made improvements as well. Yan’s clinch fighting was a necessary tool, as Magomedov made it clear he had grown immensely striking from distance. But he was dealing with a fighter who was unafraid to strike freely, bolstered by his cat-like takedown defense.

This was about one year from their first fight. Yan must have seemed a completely different fighter to Magomedov. That’s a mind-f**k.

Petr Yan showed his depth of skill with “short offense”. Using his hands to move Magomedov’s guard and create reactions, he was able to open up with complete combinations in the pocket, with the option of re-entering the clinch.

In dramatic fashion, Yan entered perfectly and executed the same double leg he had hit in their first fight.

Flying knee from the single collar tie, is normal.

As the rate of Magomedov’s takedown attempts slowed, Yan leaned heavily on short offense from the collar ties and his trusty foot sweep. Perhaps feeling a bit desperate, Magomedov attempted the “rolling thunder”, a diagonal somersault kick of sorts.

Peter Graham would be proud that Russian bantamweight wrestlers are using his kick.

Magomedov was out of options. His shots were failing, and Yan was walking him down and dominating clinch exchanges. To make matters worse, Yan was able to take him down with ease. Seizing a small window of opportunity, Magomedov sold out on a tight arm-in guillotine off of Yan’s shot.

Look at that double leg set up. I can not imagine the hours of drilling Yan has put in on that exact entry.

Yan survived, and hit Magomedov with a nasty mat return in response.

Yan hadn’t slowed one bit, and he continued to push with the same exact strategy in the fifth round. Clinch offense, foot sweeps, takedown attempts, the final round had all the elements of Yan’s title-winning gameplan.

Magomed Magomedov is most likely one of the best, and toughest bantamweights in the world. He endured a gameplan he was not equipped to overcome for five brutal rounds.

LAST FIGHT: Def. Matheus Mattos via TKO (Punches) at 2:27 of Round 3

A contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4Matheus Mattos racked up an impressive record of 11-0-1. He did have one unofficial loss to eventual finalist Reginaldo Vieira on the Ultimate Fighter.

Mattos is a striker who utilizes punishing body work and active head movement. He is light on his feet, and extremely difficult to hold down. It was not a simple stylistic matchup for Petr Yan.

While Mattos is extremely athletic, Yan demonstrated his footwork and setups were far more advanced. One of the biggest factors was Yan’s ability to cover distance with his strikes, especially after missing the beginning of a combination.

Just when Mattos thought he was out of dodge, that’s when Yan landed.

Mattos had an extremely difficult time deciphering when Yan would cease throwing. At one point he stopped dead in his tracks, and that’s when Yan bombed on him.

And that is when Mattos became his son.

The fight slowed considerably from this point. Mattos was hesitant to leave himself vulnerable, and Yan was happy to pick his shots and counter when Mattos did decide to open up.

Stand there and get chewed up. Throw and get countered. There is no right answer.

A beaten Mattos’s reactions regressed, and the windows for counters grew larger for Yan. Slowly but surely, Yan was picking up steam for an all-out assault.

Mattos’s face reads, “Five rounds. Oh god.”

It was not a long assault. Yan moved in to strike, trapping a bewildered Mattos against the cage. A pinpoint lead uppercut, or shovel hook, sent Mattos flopping on to his back.

Laser beam ground and pound, truly.

The title defense was the last bout on Yan’s ACB contract. His team reached out, and Yan was declared a UFC fighter soon after.

NEXT FIGHT: vs. Teruto Ishihara at UFC Fight Night 132

There’s a lot to love about Team Alpha Male‘s Teruto “Yashabo” Ishihara. A hilarious womanizer gimmick, hands down style, and big swinging knockouts make Ishihara all the more endearing.

With that being said, he is not the caliber of fighter Yan has battled recently in ACB. Coming down from 145 pounds, Ishihara has yet to notch an entirely meaningful win, and was thoroughly outwrestled by Gray Maynard and Jose “Teco” Quinonez. Not to mention, he was outclassed by Artem Lobov.

There is danger in this matchup, as Ishihara will be the larger man, and can certainly knock out most bantamweights if he connects clean.

The result of this bout is going to depend on which style Yan decides to employ, but it is more than likely he wins in impressive fashion.

You can catch Petr Yan vs. Teruto Ishihara headlining the Fight Pass prelims of UFC Fight Night 132 on the morning of June 23rd. War Yan. No mercy.

CAREER UPDATE (October, 2018)

Yan has been successful in his first two UFC outings. Catch up HERE!

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