It’s been a frustrating couple of months for perennial contender Mairbek Taisumov as he’s struggled to find a logical opponent to face in the Octagon. As the stage sets for UFC 223, Taisumov put the lightweight division on notice as he had a few choice words for his ranked competitors.
Followers of the Russian MMA scene are well aware of the talent and danger that Taisumov brings to the UFC. Taisumov has gone on a massive finishing streak in his last five fights as he’s pummeled the competition. His last three outings in the Octagon have won him Performance of the Night bonuses as he’s made an extra $150,000 for his exploits.
His latest fight announcement with Evan Dunham in Brooklyn did not arrive without its headaches, though. Taisumov expressed his frustration at his visa situation as he believes he’s been held back by ‘political problems’ that are beyond his control.
“All the politics [in the world] make problems. I feel like all these problems have held my career back, you know. I’m just a fighter, I’ve been training my whole life. I want to fight in the United States but because of politics I can’t get my visa to fight.”
To remedy that situation, Taisumov said the UFC has personally assigned a lawyer to help his troubles. He hopes to have all the red tape figured out by the end of this month. Taisumov has tried to fight in the states before back in 2013. He was scheduled to fight Nik Lentz at UFC 203, but the fight ultimately fell through.
In the past month since our interview, it seems like visa talks have ramped up exponentially. Just last week, the Dunham vs. Taisumov fight has been added to the UFC 223 lineup on the official website. It seems like the stars have finally aligned for Taisumov as he gets set to make his US debut on April 7.
Due to Alex Hernandez’s knockout of Beneil Dariush, Taisumov finds himself just outside of the top #15 lightweights in the UFC. Heading into this match-up with Evan Dunham, Taisumov left little to the imagination as he assessed the threat of his opponent rather simply. Taisumov feels like the rest of his competitors at 155 are simply not on his level.
“I respect Evan Dunham, he has a lot of good wins. But in the cage, it’s different. I don’t care about his grappling, I don’t care about his stand-up. I’m gonna walk into Brooklyn on April 7 and do my work. I will give him a hard time.”
The well-traveled Chechen has built a career out of evolving his style. In his M-1 Global days, Taisumov could be regularly seen exploiting his wrestling and grappling chops to secure submissions. Since making the switch to the UFC, his time with Tiger Muay Thai has transcended his game into a multi-layered threat.
Whether it’s boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, or judo, Taisumov is consistently training with Olympic level athletes and coaches that are steadily improving his growth. At the age of 29, Taisumov finds himself at his athletic prime as he gets set to take the lightweight division by storm next month.
Telling it like it is
When asked about what could possibly be on the horizon after his fight with Dunham, Mairbek Taisumov didn’t entertain the possibilities. He mentioned that he and Mick Maynard were shocked at the number of people in the top #15 that couldn’t make time to fight him. One fighter was injured, the other had an infection, other fighters just simply said no.
Fed up with waiting, Taisumov made the most out of a stagnant situation as he signed a bout agreement with Dunham. With the fight of Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa recently announced, it seemed like a logical idea to ask Taisumov what he thought of the match-up. Taisumov proceeded to blow off some steam as he had some harsh critiques for the lightweight division:
“I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve lost all my respect for Pettis, Chiesa, all these guys. Chiesa said he’d fight me after one or two fights. After that I knockout four, five people in a few rounds, now he doesn’t answer me. Same thing with his manager, they are scared of me. I don’t want to speak about these guys, they’re not on my level.”
Given the propensity of his wins lately, it’s no wonder Taisumov is finding it hard to land fights. Taisumov has displayed devastating striking ability over the course of his UFC career. On top of that, Taisumov’s impeccable wrestling pedigree is something that can’t be overlooked. When it comes to calculated aggression, few fighters are able to find the spots that Taisumov crafts as he explodes into any given combination. His strength lies in his forward pressure, but he’s also not afraid to coax you into mistakes that can turn a heated contest into a quick visit to the hospital.
— UFC (@ufc) September 2, 2017