Skip to main content

Powerlifter and MMA enthusiast scrap to prove which is better in a fight

Two guys square off on the street, an exciting martial arts technique is used, one man wins spectacularly, but all is wrong.

This article is part of a larger effort by The MMA UnderGround to understand what methods and techniques work best for self-defense, not by looking at what happens in a cage, but rather, what happens on the street. If you found this cautionary tale useful, please check out more stories on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Dojo Storms
Mutual Combat

At the Galeria cafe in Khabarovsk, Russia, Anar Alakh Ziranov, a 25-year-old from Azerbaijan identified as an MMA enthusiast, got into an argument with powerlifting and bodybuilding champion Andrey Drachev, 32. Russia's Tass reports that the bickering was over whether MMA or powerlifting was better for a real fight. The two agree to settle it outside, "like men." The cafe where the two encountered each other is reportedly the site of frequent beatings and even stabbings, with security allowing fights to take place.

Captured from multiple angles on security cameras and cell phones, it's abundantly clear that however murky was the impetus for the argument, what followed was mutual combat. Prior to things getting physical. there is video of the pair engaged in extended conversation. Cell phones were eventually handed off, mid-scrap both remove their shirts, when a shoe falls off, time was provided to put it back on; this was not an attack out of the blue by either party. 

Fight Breakdown

The video immediately below is basically of Round 1 of the fight. It opens with Drachev sitting by some steps, and Ziranov (also known as Anar Allakhveranov) gesturing that they should fight. With no warning, Drachev, a silver medalist at the 2011 world powerlifting championships in the Czech Republic. launches himself at the far smaller man. However, Ziranov level changes and takes down Drachev, before staggering him with many punches, and a couple of kicks for good measure. 

It is broken up, but only briefly, before Drachev advances on Ziranov, and then it more or less peters out, with Ziranov walking away.


However, there is a drastic escalation. A second video opens with the gigantic Drachev removing his shirt, and advancing. Ziranov wisely maintains distance, attempts a drunken spinning something, taunts Drachev to punch him, and removes his own shirt.

Ziranov shuffles into a round kick to the face, and gets a nice double leg takedown. He is struggling mightily to control the giant Drachev on the ground, but after a second takedown, secures side control. Drachev gets on top briefly, but is reversed from Scarf Hold.

Pinning is relatively easy, but striking from on top is a mighty challenge, and as soon as Ziranov tries to strike, Drachev is up again. When the bodybuilder sees that Ziranov's shoe has fallen off, he stops the action, and steps back, allowing his opponent to get properly shod.

The two again circle, and then break to jaw at each other. Ziranov tightens his shoe laces, and then rises. The pair share a mutually respectful fist bump and hand clasp. The fight nearly starts again, but Ziranov realizes his zipper is down. Again Drachev gives him a little space.

Then Ziranov steps into a high left round kick to the head; the giant is staggered. A second identical kick fails, as the pair nearly move off camera. Ziranov then lands a spinning left hook kick, which sends Drachev to the ground. As Drachev rises, a soccer kick lands, putting him out. His body limp and unconscious, Drachev skull impacts the pavement. And as he lies unconscious, Anar lands several more punches to the face, before it is broken up.

This is security cam footage.


This is footage from an onlooker.


You've seen countless videos like these. Two guys square off on the street, a martial arts technique is executed, and someone ends up prone on the ground. 

At first glance, this altercation seemed pretty stupid - fighting over whether MMA works - but there's a spectacular kick, and MMA really did work on a gigantic national champion in powerlifting and bodybuilding. So that was kind of cool.

The bad news comes via the deputy chief doctor of the second regional hospital in Khabarovsk.

"A young man without signs of life was brought," said the physician. "Immediately he was placed in the intensive care unit. For half an hour he was given a full range of resuscitation measures, which, unfortunately, did not succeed."

Andrey Drachev died before he reached the hospital. 

Townspeople left flowers and an image of the popular athlete/coach at the scene of the killing.

The site of the death of Andrey Drachev

The site of the death of Andrey Drachev

Russian national champion powerlifter Andrey Drachev

Russian national champion powerlifter Andrey Drachev

Ziranov fled, but eventually turned himself in and was arrested after a massive manhunt. In court, he offered his deepest apologies to the Drachev family for their loss, one he felt all the more keenly having recently lost his own father in a car accident.

"I want to apologize to Andrey's family and parents for my actions that caused so much pain," he said. "I did not want this and did not plan it as the investigators allege. I know what it is like to lose someone close, and I understand how Andrey's parents must feel."

Ziranov was sentenced to 18 years in prison. This exciting, respectful scrap in front of a bar destroyed two lives, and two families. There is a reason that you don't train on bricks, with no supervision, while drunk - doing so would be insanely stupid. Unfortunately, that is exactly what so many street fights are, and sometimes people die.

The bottom line is that fighting for free on the street is insanely stupid. If you like to fight, fight your friends who like to fight, too, in the gym or arena. Fighting on the street is stupid and can and has killed a lot of people, with incarceration the winner's special reward.

Who Started The Fight?

There were conflicting reports as to who instigated the fight. An eyewitness who was in the cafe along with the pair, said Ziranov provoked the powerlifter several times. First Drachev wrote down his phone number so the two could sort out their differences the next day when they were sober. As he was writing, Anar reportedly kicked Drachev.

Ziranov’s relatives offer an alternate narrative, telling the media that the fight started after the bodybuilder called him a “piglet.” And according to local reports, Drachev had been involved in another altercation prior to this street brawl.

Respected coach Vladimir Mulin, who worked with Andrei Drachev, reports that the disagreement between the two may have a history. They wrestled each other in school, and Drachev quit wrestling after an injury, and started powerlifting; then after sufering a knee injury, began bodybuilding.

Drachev was reportedly 6″4 and 265 lbs at the time his death. Ziranov was reportedly 5″7 and 160 lbs. Given that this was clearly mutual combat, 18 years in jail seems stiff given that there is no indication that murder was intended. To the contrary, the pair seemed to be getting on fine, all things considered. Still, a man died by the trained hands of another.

Was Ziranov an MMA Fighter?

Ziranov has been identified widely as an MMA fighter and MMA professional. Images from his profile on VK, Russia's equivalent to Facebook, indicate he was a big fan of Mike Tyson, and now-deceased Azerbaijani organized crime figure Rovshan Janiev, and show him training and coaching at a fight gym in Khabarovsk called Master. His background is believed to be kickboxing and Sambo.

The authorities gave Ziranov's address as the address of the Master gym. And this was not, unfortunately, the only similar crime associated with Master gym. It was founded by Roman Kovalev and Evgeny Rufanov. In 2015, Rufanov, along with Ziranov's brother, Natig Aliyar Allakhveranov, was convicted and jailed for intentional infliction of grave harm to health, the identical charge that Anar was convicted of. The pair reportedly beat a man who owed them money, causing a craniocerebral injury. 

However, Dmitry Konkov, head of the Far Eastern Federation of Modern Pankration, said that not only was Ziranov not a fighter, but they have never even heard of him. There is no record of Ziranov ever having an MMA bout, but he shows real skills in martial arts and combat sports.

And now he has wasted his own life, and wasted the life of another.

Was Anyone Else Arrested?

A security guard at a nearby shopping center saw the fight, and called the police. Officers arrived at the scene, watched the scrap, but did not stop it.

"They moved on police car near the ones in conflict, without taking measures to detain them, or provide medical assistance to one, whose clothes were already richly covered in blood," said the prosecutor’s office. "His external condition clearly indicated the need for emergency hospitalization."

The officers returned to the police station, and reported that nothing happened.

One was sentenced to three years and three months in a penal colony settlement, and banned from working in law enforcement for three years. The other officer was sentenced to two years and eight months, and is prohibited from working in law enforcement for two and a half years. 

Career, futures, and a life lost, all to prove which is better in a streetfight, MMA or strength. The solution is to only punch your friends, under qualified supervision, while on a matted surface.