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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Ultimate Fighting: Russia vs. the World

A few words about Red Devil and the unpopular mix-fighting phenomenon in which Russia is a sure leader

The audience at large knows little about the sport called "fighting without rules," generally known as mix fighting — practically nothing. This is no wonder, because even true athletes sometimes cannot answer the question what "fighting without rules" or mix fighting is. Is it a separate kind of sport, or just an ordinary fight, a cruel scuffle that some clever people raised to the level of a sports event that sometimes becomes an profitable public show?

This writer was slightly shocked to watch this kind of "sport" (which I wouldn’t call it) for the first time. Next to mix fighting, professional (not to mention amateur) boxing and Tyson's tricks look like an innocent childish pastime. My personal opinion is that it is good that broadcasting of mixed fighting on TV is infrequent in Russia.

A month ago, a mix-fighting championship took place in Moscow's CSKA sports complex. The championship was held in two weight categories: Under 85 and over 85 kilograms (the "absolute" category). The championship started with the 1/8 finals, and the Olympic system for withdrawing was used. Ansar Chalangov, from the city of Rostov-na-Donu, was the winner in the first category after defeating Andrei Rudakov, the ex-champion in the mix-fighting world championship in 2001, in the finals. In the weight category of over 85 kg, Mario de Silva was declared the winner.

It should be mentioned that Russians are very strong at mix fighting; they win many more victories than athletes from other countries. It is not accidental, then, that the traditional international mix-fighting championship held in St. Petersburg, the Worldwide Mix Fight Championship M-1, is called "Russia vs. the World." The championship was held for the fifth time on April 6, when the Russian team scored another victory. The final result was seven to four in Russia's favor.

Let's get to the history of mix fighting. The year 1979 is traditionally considered to be some kind of reference point: It was at that time that the tradition arose of holding hand-to-hand-combat championships for the Soviet airborne troops, which were closed events. Similar championships were initiated in the rest of the armed forces in 1992. In the course of time, these sporting events were transformed into modern "fights without rules" (they are called “boi bez pravil” here in Russia).

An international sports club, Red Devil, was opened in St. Petersburg, and coaches representing different combat tactics were invited to work there. The club adopted the rules of the Russian martial art sambo and kickboxing as its basis. In addition, the club studied foreign experience in the area. As a result of this work, the first professional mix-fighting team was formed in Russia's Northern Capital.

In 1996, The St. Petersburg Mix-Fighting Federation was founded on the basis of the Red Devil sport club. Today, it is a member of the International Mix-Fight Association (IMA), which includes over 14 countries.

Red Devil members say that the phrase "fighting without rules" is just a name. They say that mix-fighting championships employ no definite tactics: Fighters can use any form of fighting: Karate, boxing, judo, Thai boxing, kickboxing. However, the fights are traditionally governed by a short list of forbidden tactics: Fighters cannot perform "actions that may cause damage to the health of other people or that disagree with sports etiquette." These are eye-gouging, hair-pulling, shots to the neck and groin or elbows to the throat. A standing athlete cannot kick or kneel a prone opponent in the head, even one who is just touching the carpet with his hand. Athletes are forbidden to kick an opponent if he is wearing sports shoes during the championship.

One fight lasts 10 minutes, without breaks. A referee can stop a fight before the time elapses if one of the opponents has an obvious advantage or at the request of the coach or one of the fighters" seconds.

The commercial success of the first championships in St. Petersburg exceeded all expectations. Since that time, the St. Petersburg Mix Fight Federation has had the right to organize mix-fight championships in Russia. Starting in 2002, the international championships have been called "Russia vs. the World," as only Russian athletes are able to roundly trounce all foreign athletes. Russians have recently become the feared opponents of all participants in mix-fight championships.

However, some curious accidents sometimes may occur. For example, last week it was reported that a mix-fight world champion was caught stealing an automobile. His name was not published. It was said that alleged participants in a criminal group stealing and reselling expensive car models had been detained in St. Petersburg. The investigation reported that the three 30-year-old citizens of the Northern Capital had thoroughly planned their operations in St. Petersburg and the region. The source also reported that one of the men was a mix-fight champion of the world and Europe. The three men were caught hijacking an Audi A6 car.

The investigation mentioned a  number of critics who allegedly said that mix-fighting is a sport closely connected with criminal activity.

PRAVDA.Ru wishes to expound further upon this sport, which is becoming more and more popular. We would like you to join the discussion on the subject on the PRAVDA.Ru forum. You can also email post@pravda.ru with the note "mix-fighting" and give you opinion as the whether mix-fighting, or ultimate fighting as it is also called, can be called a sport.