In a video on the UFC’s official Russian social media account, undefeated middleweight sensation Roman Kopylov (8-0) announced that he has signed with the UFC.
Kopylov, 27, is one of Russia’s most highly touted MMA prospects. The middleweight is a perfect 8-0 in his professional MMA career, with all but one of his wins coming by way of knockout.
The Russian is a rangy 6’2″, and uses his length quite well. Though relatively young in his MMA career, Kopylov’s consistent progression has been evident from fight to fight.
Kopylov turned pro in 2016, and he has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time. Having competed in WCSA, S-70, and ACB, Kopylov most recently fought under the Fight Nights Global banner.
There, Kopylov won the middleweight title in 2018, defeating Abusupyan Alikhanov. Prior to facing Kopylov, Alikhanov was on a nine-fight winning streak.
Since winning the title, Kopylov has defended it once, stopping longtime MMA veteran Yasubey Enomoto in the fourth round of their December 2018 title match.
Prior to competing in mixed martial arts, Kopylov had a decorated career in the world of combat sambo. He is a five-time world hand-to-hand combat champion, along with a multi-time Russian and European champion.
Below is an analysis of Kopylov’s game authored by The Body Lock’s Ryan Thomas:
“A cultured southpaw, Kopylov works behind a versatile jab which easily switches from a probing range finder to piston, to shovel, in an instant, often following heavier shots up with an accurate, sniping left hand to the head or body. He utilizes feints and hand traps to create openings and is capable of leading or pressing his opponent to force mistakes where he can utilize counters. He’s also the owner of a solid kicking arsenal, with heavy left body kicks used frequently, while his use of spinning back kicks to the body is surprisingly effective. To add to that, Kopylov has a strong sense of timing and excels in knowing when to close the distance, while defensively his management of distance is sublime, with him rarely allowing his opponents the opportunity to get in range. A defensively responsible striker who attacks at opportune moments is a wonderful thing to see in MMA.
We haven’t seen much offensive grappling from Kopylov thus far in MMA, although I can assure you he has the chops for it having followed his hand-to-hand exploits. Defensively he uses some effective yet simple techniques to negate opponents advances and create space so he can break. He stuffs shots in the open fairly easily, using his agility and impressive leg dexterity to get himself out of trouble, and against the cage wall, he favors the right overhook/left underhook, while also alternating to the left wrist control when he wants to break. He generally bides his time before successfully implementing clinch-breaking wrist control. And throughout his career, Kopylov has displayed a cool head in there, even utilizing this defense while defending a torrent of chain wrestling.
Primarily, Kopylov is a thoughtful striker who has the capability of forcing his opponents to fight where he wants to fight — and where he wants to fight, he excels.”
Kopylov represents a great, young addition to the UFC’s already strong middleweight division. Per reports, it is likely that Kopylov will debut on the upcoming UFC Russia card, which takes place in St. Petersburg on April 20.
Kopylov himself added, “Soon the name of my rival and date of the first fight will be known… I hope that to me will put fight in St. Petersburg, I would like to debut in Russia because it is my home,” on Instagram.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.