What WME Should See: Mairbek Taisumov

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Far too often in MMA, fighters with fascinating backstories and unique talents are under-promoted. This lack of promotion is a massive blow to the wallets of these fighters, and, ironically, hurts the bottom line of the organization that makes such promotional missteps. In “What WME Should See“, we look at a fighter who should be getting a big push from their promoters, but for whatever reason isn’t, and detail just why – and how – they should. For today’s edition, we’ll take a look at Mairbek Taisumov.

The Fighter

Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov (26-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) is a thirty-year-old lightweight hailing from the Chechen Republic in Russia. Before entering the UFC ranks, he competed in M-1 Global.

Since signing with the UFC, Taisumov has been perfect, save for a 2014 unanimous decision loss to surging now-welterweight Michel Prazeres (25-2). Most recently, Taisumov scored a vicious first-round knockout over Felipe Silva at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Struve in September of 2017.

The Context

The UFC’s lightweight division is as deep as they come. Featuring Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Kevin Lee, Dustin Poirier, Eddie Alvarez, and dozens of other reputable names, it can be hard to get one’s foot in the door.

That’s been the case for “Beckan”, who – save for a short stint in 2017 as the fifteenth-ranked contender – has struggled to break into the rankings.

In fact, Taisumov has yet to draw a ranked opponent, despite winning all but one of his UFC victories by brutal knockout.

Taisumov is now on a five-fight winning streak. Of those five, all have ended by knockout in the first or second round. Three of those stoppages earned the Russian a “Performance of the Night” bonus.

The Roadblocks

It’s not as if the UFC has an aversion to giving Mairbek Taisumov high-profile fights, they’ve just fallen through.

Every UFC Fight Change and Cancellation of 2017

Taisumov has seen seven scheduled fights of his fall through, due to opponents’ injuries, his visa issues, and injuries of his own. Among the fights that had fizzled for the heavy-hitting Russian are bouts with longtime UFC veterans Nik Lentz and Gleison Tibau; and former ranked contenders, Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham.

The visa issues are particularly important. For most of Taisumov’s career, he has fought outside of the United States. “Beckan” has fought in Croatia, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, and Singapore under the UFC banner. Without fighting in the United States, it becomes more difficult for Taisumov to cultivate a domestic (American) audience.

Taisumov’s visa most recently prevented him from his most high-profile matchup to date, barring him from facing Dunham at UFC 223, where he would have competed alongside his superstar countryman, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The Way to Promote Mairbek Taisumov

As for how to promote Mairbek Taisumov, the recipe for success is clear.

Maximize Russia

The UFC is already tapping into the Russian market, recently reaching a co-promotional agreement with Taisumov’s former promotion, M-1 Global, in addition to making their promotional debut in the country.

The UFC – and WME – made the right call, booking Taisumov on the UFC Moscow card that is rapidly approaching. He’ll face Desmond Green (21-7) on the September 15th event’s main card.

The Spotlight on Scary

Coupled with maximizing his impact on the Russian market, the UFC should also be sure to shine a spotlight on his terrifying finishes.

Mairbek Taisumov has an impressive highlight reel, and his three UFC performance bonuses certainly speak to that. His knockout of Felipe Silva, in particular, has earned high praise. It is ranked as Tapology’s thirty-eighth best knockout of 2017.

Welcome to the USA

The next step is to straighten out his visa troubles. Speaking with Peter Caroll of MMA Fighting in January, Taisumov lamented his current situation. “This whole visa process has been holding my career back,” he said. “If I had a visa, I would fight every Saturday in America because they have many shows in America. It’s hard to build up momentum when you have to wait for the European cards that only come along every few months.”

Getting Taisumov inside the cage more often would certainly benefit his popularity and rocket him up the rankings. If fighting in the U.S. is the way to do that, the UFC should get to work, even though Taisumov did say, “the UFC lawyers are working on it”.

Work Him Up The Ladder

The final step would be to get Taisumov a ranked fight. Should he win at UFC Moscow, Taisumov will have a very solid case for a high-level opponent. He’d be 7-1 with at least five knockouts, he’d have a six-fight winning streak, and he’d have at least three performance bonuses.

The Verdict

It should be easy to promote Mairbek Taisumov. He has a stellar record. He’s been fantastic inside the Octagon. The Russian market loves him. And man, does he have one hell of a highlight reel!

What WME should see is a heavy-handed, hard-hitting, budding Russian contender. And what they should do is promote him.

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Michael Fiedel is a journalist covering mixed martial arts and submission grappling. He has been training in Brazilian jiu jitsu for almost two years and has immersed himself in both jiu jitsu and MMA. He has written for both MMA Today and MMA Sucka.

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