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A “Dynamo” will make his return to the Bellator MMA cage at Bellator 216 on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where Ukrainian prospect Yaroslav Amosov puts his perfect 20-0 record on the line against Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Erick Silva.
After competing mostly in Russia and his native Ukraine for the first five years of his career, Amosov, 25, brought his talents to the western hemisphere for the first time in 2018. It marked a major career shift, one he had sought for some time and one he seemed to enjoy.
“I’ve always dreamed of competing in the [United States],” Amosov told Sherdog.com. “I really like to spend time in the U.S. I like the people and the lifestyle.”
Amosov was victorious in his promotional debut at Bellator 202 in July, as he took a three-round unanimous decision from Gerald Harris -- a graduate of Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and a 13-year veteran of the sport. It was a situation that seemed ripe for nervousness, as he was getting his feet wet with a globally recognized organization on the other side of the planet and against perhaps the most accomplished opponent he had ever fought. However, Amosov felt the opposite sensation.
“Honestly, I was so excited to join Bellator,” he said. “It’s a great organization. I wasn’t nervous at all.”
The sambo practitioner is a longtime fan of former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Fedor Emelianenko and shares some of Russian icon’s characteristics, namely an ability to finish fights early. Amosov has delivered 17 of his 20 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. His performance against Harris lacked the wow factor associated with his 12 first-round finishes as a professional, but it provided him with an opportunity to display the varied skills he hopes to show North American fans -- and future opponents -- in forthcoming appearances.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Amosov said. “I won, so that’s the most important [thing]. I think I’m a well-rounded fighter. I will definitely surprise my opponents in future fights.”
In his second outing with Bellator, he must confront Silva -- a man who won 17 of his first 22 bouts and was viewed as a rising star in the UFC at one time. However, he has gone 2-4 across his last six starts, losing much of the momentum he had built. Even though Silva has struggled of late, Amosov views him the same way he views every opponent: as someone deserving of his full attention and respect. He expects to be tested by the Brazilian.
“I don’t think there are easy fights in MMA,” Amosov said. “I’ll be ready to do both striking and wrestling. We’ll see how the fight goes, but I’m ready for anything. I never expect an easy fight. I’m always prepared for a battle.”
Amosov finds himself in the midst of the longest period of inactivity of his career. Following his win over Harris, he was scheduled to face Lorenz Larkin in October in a bout to decide an alternate for the Bellator welterweight grand prix. However, an injury forced Amosov to withdraw from the match. It was a frustrating setback for the undefeated prospect.
“I was disappointed that I had to pull out from that fight,” Amosov said. “However, I try not to think about it that much. Whatever happens, happens for the best.”
Larkin questioned the quality of the Ukrainian’s resume once their bout was nixed in October.
“I’m looking, and [Amosov’s] record is padded, which there’s nothing wrong with,” he said. “That’s how you build fighters, and I’m like, ‘OK, let’s see if this goes through.’”
Amosov declined to respond to Larkin’s comments, though he would like to revisit the fight in the not-too-distant future.
“At this moment, my mind is occupied with Silva,” he said. “After the fight is done, I’ll be ready to talk about Larkin. I want this fight, so I think it will happen.”