An unbelievable amount of ridiculousness ensued throughout 2020 the further along we all got in the year. To perfectly summarize 2020 with a capper, the MMA world provided us with an intergender openweight exhibition bout in November pitting Russia’s Darina Mazdyuk vs. the 500-plus pound YouTuber, Grigory Chistyakov (also known as Grisha Polnoe).
Mazdyuk, 28, is a solid prospect who has competed in the 135-pound bantamweight and 145-pound featherweight divisions. However, up until her viral first-round TKO victory, the 4-1 pro was a virtual unknown outside of Russia’s regional scene.
Sometimes all it takes is for one moment to get you recognized on a global scale.
“The idea to hold this fight came from me,” Mazdyuk told BJPenn.com. “There was no quarrel with Grigory. There was an idea for a fight between a woman and a man. We had been looking for a long time for someone who would agree. The organizers found two fighters and from them I chose Grigory.”
Prior to Mazdyuk vs. Polnoe in Nashe Delo Fights on Nov. 26, “The Red Queen” last fought in March where she picked up a unanimous decision against Marina Kigeleva. The win extended her streak to three and like many in 2020, left Mazdyuk doing more watching of fights than participating — more so classic bouts from the past or the women’s scene, to be specific.
For the Moscow native, she has an affection for the art of striking and that would make sense considering her background. In terms of inspirations and fighters that Mazdyuk has enjoyed learning from, she notes names such as Kostya Tszyu, Andy Hug, Lechi Kurbanov, Fedor Emelianenko, Peter Aerts, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Semmy Schilt, and Badr Hari.
“I’ve been watching action movies with my father since childhood,” shared Mazdyuk. “I was amazed at the possession of the body of Jean-Claude Van Damme. I always wanted to learn how to control the body and fight.
“As a child, I studied at an art school. I started practicing martial arts by accident when I was 15 years old. It was Russian hand-to-hand fighting, then sambo, and finally, I started practicing Kyokushin karate which I devoted eight years of my life to.”
Just five bouts into her career now — six including the star-making exhibition — Mazdyuk is only getting started and finds herself positioned in a spot to do big things. On Dec. 15, news broke that the Russian prospect had officially signed an exclusive contract with Bellator MMA.
In 2020, Bellator made a strong effort toward building up their already quality 125-pound flyweight division to a point where it is now loaded with some of the world’s best talent. Despite never competing at flyweight, Mazdyuk is planning to make the drop-down upon her arrival in the promotion.
The former bodybuilder aims to make her debut this Spring but has yet to start figuring out any dates or opponents sorted out. Like all international fighters, obtaining a Visa to be able to come stateside is the first order of business.
Had you told Darina Mazdyuk prior to her viral performance that newfound fame and opportunity would come afterward, she wouldn’t have been surprised.
“Bellator contacted me about one to two weeks after the fight video came out. Notably after comments of our fight from the likes of Mickey Rourke, Mark Goddard, and Mike O’Hearn.
“Yes, of course,” she responded when asked if she expected to receive the level of attention she has. “And I will get even more attention when I start to conquer Bellator.”This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM