Artem Vakhitov could therefore make the leap into MMA.
Light heavyweight champion GLORY was dissolved from his contract after kickboxing promotion decided to part ways with all Russians on his roster citing a list of “obstacles” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The call leaves Vakhitov, 31, 22-6 in kickboxing after the decisive victory over Alex Pereira last September, free on the market to explore other options.
Vakhitov manager Andrey Busygin said in an interview with MMA Fighting that he reached out to UFC and PFL matchmakers during a trip to the United States in April 2021 and are now open to the idea of eventually switching to MMA.
“Why not? We are ready to go, because Artem has started training MMA step by step,” Busygin said. “If he had the exact date and the exact opponent, for example, for a fight on the march, even against the attacker, to fight [on the feet], not with a wrestler or something, why not? To feel the cage for the first fight. It’s very interesting for society, for spectators, for MMA fans watching the fighting, attacking against attacking. It’s really cool and really bright, people love that kind of show, they love the punches, they love the kicks, they love the good dynamics in that kind of fighting.
Busygin said he reached out to UFC matchmakers Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby to start conversations about a possible deal, and also met with ONE league officials during a recent trip to Singapore.
“We have sent letters to the UFC matchmakers [to inform] that Artem is a free agent, for Mick and Sean, to see what they will answer us. Let’s see what ONE Championship responds to, ”he said. “Furthermore, we have good opportunities to fight locally in Russia with different rules, to continue kickboxing and also to debut in MMA. In recent years we have also received good boxing offers. … Boxing may not be a smart story [right now]but it all depends on the contractual terms and contractual things, it depends on what they are ready to offer.
According to Busygin, ONE was interested in signing the kickboxer in the past, but decided to sign with GLORY again at the time. If he chooses to join ONE now, Vakhitov will face Roman Kryklia for the kickboxing light heavyweight title. Kryklia was part of Vakhitov’s squad for Pereira’s rematch at GLORY in 2021, but Busygin said that wouldn’t stop them from accepting him.
Busygin added that he had “friendly talks” with ONE officials in Singapore “but still nothing serious. We have not received an exact offer from them with exact numbers, opponents and dates.
“ONE Championship could be Artem’s future,” he said. “Maybe, but not 100%. First, we need to get what we want for what we work for and what we prepare for every time. It really depends on all the terms of the contracts.
Vakhitov has yet to return to competitions since winning a majority decision on “Poatan” in Rotterdam, Pereira’s fight for retirement in kickboxing before moving full-time to MMA and winning three in a row in the octagon to earn a shot to UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. For Busygin’s team, however, Pereira should have lost both games of GLORIA.
“The first match against Artem was definitely bullshit, Artem won 100%,” said Busygin. “It was a good story for Alex. It’s unclear how this was done with GLORY’s matchmakers and Alex’s managers to persuade him to win two titles in his and Artem’s division. They named him double champion, it was a good opportunity to send him to the UFC.
“The second match against Pereira obviously won Artem, but it wasn’t as brilliant as the first. It was more difficult because Alex already knew how to work against Artem, but, nevertheless, Artem won. Alex is fine now, continues to make his KO shot, the left hook. I think he hasn’t even done a takedown because he’s still trying to fix it and [finish] this [on the feet]. “
As for Vakhitov’s exit from GLORY, Busygin was dissatisfied with the way GLORY CEO Scott Rudmann handled things. In its official statement, while announcing a vacant title fight for Vakhitov, GLORY said it “encountered a number of obstacles that made it impossible to organize fights for its Russian athletes, obstacles such as travel bans, safety concerns, blockages. payment in a global environment financial sanctions against Russia and unwitting opponents.
Busygin said he has already obtained visas, airline tickets and all necessary documents for Vakhitov’s confrontation with Luis Tavares on March 19 in Hasselt, Belgium. He claimed GLORY offered a heavyweight replacement after Tavares retired, but the 205-pound champion was the last day of the field and 26 pounds lighter than his proposed opponent, making it impossible to gain muscle weight to compete in the heavyweights.
“We asked for the scholarship for the whole fight because [Tavares pulled out]it wasn’t our fault, and after we were waiting but there was no response, “Busygin said.” We got some weird things from GLORY CEO Scott Rudmann, a very sneaky guy. During the 10 years of working with GLORY , we worked very clearly with the rest of the GLORY team and personally with the president Pierre Andurand. He was happy with us and we respect him very much because he is the number one person who made kickboxing grow in the world. We told the team at GLORIA. “We do something because we cannot wait, we are tired of sitting and waiting.
“It took some time, every day he said to us: ‘We are waiting, checking, waiting.’ Also, we told them that if you are not ready to solve it, let us go, we do not want to waste time because time is running out and the boys are not very young and we have to do something. After that, I got a call from GLORY matchmaker and he said, “Yes, we are ready to release all contracts.” The president has confirmed to us that he will receive the scholarship for the fight. And then we got the call from the matchmaker saying that, unfortunately, he should release all the contracts for this, this and this, the sponsors, the ties, the people don’t want to fight the Russians. Really strange story.
“We said to ourselves ‘Okay, we’re ready to release the contracts, no problem’. They were three fighters from the same gym. We got this call, I contacted our team manager to give him the information. But GLORIA prepared herself well. They have prepared all the material for the social networks, for all the magazines, the newspapers. They just called me and in 20 minutes they posted everything on social media. It was very fast, that’s for sure. Can be [done] more softly, you know? It seems like a super underhanded preparation to get us out.
“[What GLORY posted] it is not true. We got visas, had flights, had no problems with bank accounts to transfer money. They just played and used it, most of the time it was done by the CEO because he is a person who does it.