The We're Not Russian invasion

 

“I asked if Adlan Amagov was always like this before a fight, if this was normal for him. He said, ‘I lived in a tent for seven years with Russians shooting at us from helicopters. In the cage, it’s just a man.’ That was kind of like, wow, there’s some perspective.”
-Mike Winkeljohn 

Adlan Amagov, Albert Tumenov, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Omari Ahkmedov, Rustam Khabilov and others have all put on dominating performances at the elite level of MMA. The names are unusual to American ears, so US fans often catalog them individually as The Hat Guy, The Bellator Scary Guy, etc. Collectively, they are "The Russian Invasion."

The thing is, they don't want to be called Russian. MMAjunkie's Ben Fowlkes spoke about it with with several people, including Murat "Master K" Keshtov, who runs K's Dojo in Fairfield, NJ.

Keshtov trains a lot of fighters that people call Russian, but if you call them Russian to their face, they will correct you. They often speak Russian to each other, as there are 30 some different languages spoken in the North Caucasus region where most of the fighters come from. But they consider themselves Chechnyan, or Circassian, or Dagestani, and that is just the Cs and Ds. 

“I know how it is,” said Keshtov. “Me, when I came here, every time I would be working somewhere, my co-workers would call me ‘The Russian guy.’ I’d say, ‘I’m not Russian!’ I’d explain to them where I was from and how it was different, and they’d listen to me. Then at the end, still, I’m the Russian guy. It made no difference.”

“I remember watching Ring of Combat. I was always thinking, ‘Man, I wish my guys were here. They would win easily.’ In my head, it was always this idea to make a team coming from our state.”

“That’s predominately where most of these fighters come from, probably 90 percent. The new wave of fighters in UFC and Bellator comes from the south part of Russia, the North Caucasus. It’s kind of an autonomous state. It’s like a little country within a country, but it’s officially part of Russia.”

“Wrestling, judo, sambo, anything to do with combat is very popular there. It’s been that way for hundreds of years. Eventually it becomes part of your culture without you realizing. If you’re a man there, especially, you have to be a fighter.”

“Here, for example, fighters are smarter (about their careers) in some ways. They’re savvy. They look at the situation and say, ‘Should I fight this guy? Does it make sense for me? He’s 10-0 and I’m 1-0, so no way I’m going to fight him.’ Especially you see this on the regional level. But over there, they fight anybody. You have two camps trying to negotiate a fight, and if one doesn’t take it, that’s an embarrassment. Everyone will look down on him, like it’s shameful. You disgraced our clan, our family, because you didn’t fight him.”

“I knew this could happen. For us, MMA was like, we have an opportunity to do this for a living? Hell yeah. That’s our middle name. Now, back there, MMA has taken over. You’re going to see a lot more of us.”

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Recent Comments »

Wasa-B site profile image  

3/14/14 7:57 PM by Wasa-B

I think you just illustrated exactly why its not nit picking. I think you also illustrated that you get upset rather easily.

Judontkneedthisname3744 site profile image  

3/14/14 1:01 PM by Judontkneedthisname3744

Horrible title thread

hubris site profile image  

3/14/14 12:55 PM by hubris

what about those dirty Armenians?

Phisher site profile image  

3/14/14 12:55 PM by Phisher

Fair enough.

Sprawl'n'Stall site profile image  

3/14/14 12:53 PM by Sprawl'n'Stall

While you are technically correct of course, you don't understand how these people would want to NOT be identified by their conquerors? And let's face it, ethnic identification usually trumps national one.

Herring In A Fur Coat site profile image  

3/14/14 12:43 PM by Herring In A Fur Coat

While it is a Ukrainian surname, the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian cultures are so tightly intervowen that it's impossible to judge ones ethnicity by their last name alone. He self-identifies as Russian (Russkiy, not just Rossiyanin) so I will take his word for it.

Phisher site profile image  

3/14/14 12:22 PM by Phisher

If he's an ethnic Russian, why does he have a Ukranian surname?

Herring In A Fur Coat site profile image  

3/14/14 12:19 PM by Herring In A Fur Coat

No.  He is an ethnic Russian born in Ukraine (at the time when both Russia and Ukraine were a part of the USSR). As I said above, the intricacies of this are very difficult to explain to anyone who is not from that region, or at least has a deep understanding of its geopolitical state.

Phisher site profile image  

3/14/14 12:07 PM by Phisher

Isn't Fedor an ethnic Ukranian?

Herring In A Fur Coat site profile image  

3/14/14 11:55 AM by Herring In A Fur Coat

This is a case of something missing in transation. The word "Russian" in English can have 3 different meanings, for which there are 3 distinct Russian words: Citizen/resident of Russia (Rossiyanin) Ethnic Russian (Russkiy) Russophone/native speaker of Russian (Russkoyazytchniy)   There are some "Russians" to whom all 3 definitions of the word apply.  There are other "Russians" to whom one or two of the 3 definitions apply.   For example, Fedor Emelianenko is Russian (1,2,3)   Khabib Nurmagomedov and most other Dagestani/Chechen/Caucasian guys are (1,3) but not 2.   I was born in Azerbaijan, my native language is Russian, but I am not an ethnic Russian and never lived in Russia proper.  When I moved to US, nonetheless I was labeled "Russian" (3) even though I am not 1 or 2.  I don't bother correcting people when they call me Russian - the distinction and explanation makes for too long of a discussion, and ultimately most people still don't get it...  So I go along with being labeled Russian, even though if I was having a conversation in Russian with another native Russian speaker, I would never refer to myself as "Russkiy" or "Rossiyanin".