Damir Ismagulov Signs with Nashe Delo, Fights Eduard Vartanyan on March 2nd

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After his 2023 loss against the rising Grant Dawson, Damir Ismagulov was once more considering retirement and it seemed like his path in the UFC had come to an end. 

We haven’t heard from ‘Qazaq’ for some time, but now the news broke that he has signed with the Moscow promotion Nashe Delo and will compete against the former ACA Lightweight Grand Prix champion, Eduard Vartanyan. having last fought in June of 2023, Vartanyan was focused on getting a deal done with the UFC, but with no success.

These two fighters have great pedigrees and are the same age, but one had just come out of the world’s number 1 MMA promotion and the other is eagerly waiting for the call-up. Vartanyan vs Ismagulov is scheduled for Nashe Delo 82, in Moscow on March 2nd.

Eduard Vartanyan turned down a huge deal from the Russian Promotion originally

Throughout 2022 and 2023, Vartanyan competed in the ACA Lightweight GP and in the end came out on top – finishing all 3 of his opponents.  A couple of months after that, in October 2023, ‘Lionheart’ revealed that he had turned down the biggest contract in the history of Russian mixed martial arts because UFC was his main goal and a number 1 wish.

Stating that since he started his martial arts journey, he looked at the UFC as his ultimate goal and destination. Not only competing there but getting to the belt. Unfortunately for him, the negotiations fell through and since then, Vartanyan decided to continue building his name on the Russian scene.

Many fans and those close to the sport were surprised by the Russian fighter and his team’s inability to seal the deal with the UFC, but Eduard himself came out and revealed the truth: “The reason they didn’t want to sign me? It was the human factor, in the name of Sean Shelby. I’ve even talked to Dana White and he said that he’s familiar with me.”

Left with confusion about why Sean Shelby isn’t fond of him, Vartanyan decided to sign with Nashe Delo, the Moscow-based promotion which has good financial backing. He will compete on their March 2nd card, in the main event. Perhaps he could convince Shelby to sign him, with a great win against the former top 15 UFC Lightweight – Damir Ismagulov.

Eduard Vartanyan vs Damir Ismagulov – breakdown

Both fighters were born in 1991 and are famous names on the Russian MMA scene. Ismagulov was the M-1 Global Lightweight champion, with several title defences to his name. ‘Lionheart’ on the other hand, was an interim champion of Russia’s premier MMA organization – ACA and won their Grand Prix last year, as mentioned above.

Both athletes are known for their complete MMA skill sets, but with different approaches to fights. Vartanyan is more of a pressure fighter who likes to lead the dance and move forward constantly, while ‘Qazaq’ prefers a Soviet school of boxing style, controlling the contest with his precise and dynamic jab and counterpunching.

Both are no strangers to wrestling, as Ismagulov has a background in army hand-to-hand combat (which utilizes striking and grappling techniques with an emphasis on strikes and throws), while Vartanyan has shown constant improvements in his wrestling, ground control and ground and pound. 

This is the perfect stylistic matchup for fans to enjoy and we are certainly getting a dynamic fight. The storyline is very intriguing too, as one man dreams about the UFC call up, while the other has already tasted the highest levels of competition the number one promotion had to offer, acquiring a 5-2 record, throughout his five years of competing there.

It’s important to mention here that fans follow the Russian MMA scene very closely and believe many of ACA’s competitors can easily compete in the UFC, especially when talking about the range of 125 – 170 pound weight classes. So, Vartanyan’s success there holds a lot of weight.

A new chapter in Damir Ismagulov’s career and possibly the last chance to go for the top for Eduard Vartanyan. The levels of excitement are very high and a technical, fast-paced contest awaits us!

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