Mar 01, 2017
Timur Valiev, considered by many to be one of the top prospects in MMA, will finally have the opportunity to add WSOF champion to his list of accolades. Before Valiev steps into the Decagon at WSOF35, get to know a little more about the man battling for the Bantamweight Title at Turning Stone Resort Casino on March 18, live on NBCSN.
Valiev organizes his time and camps between head coach Mark Henry, who also works with stars like Marlon Moraes, Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez and the highly acclaimed JacksonWink camp out in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Valiev will be facing fellow Russian and Dagestani Bekbulat Magomedov at WSOF35 for the vacated bantamweight belt. According to Valiev, Dagestan is a place where “everyone has cauliflower ears.” Considering both men’s gritty combat background, this fight is surely one not to miss.
Before pursuing a career in MMA, Valiev was an avid soccer player. He played high-level soccer in Russia but admits he spent a lot of time on the bench only making appearances when the team needed someone “tough” to take out another player. He still plays soccer outside of his fights, but has now fully devoted himself to a life in combat sports.
Maintaining respect is very high on the bantamweight’s list of lifestyle goals, which means competing for the 135 lb. belt prior to Moraes’ departure probably wouldn’t have been an option. Valiev has trained with the former champion a number of times and has even shared living space with him, making the chance to fight for a vacated belt now the perfect time for him.
According to Valiev himself, his nickname “Lucky” first came to be thanks to his love for a character in an Italian mob movie of the same name. But he now sees the nickname as an extension of his gratitude for his coaches, team, training and career success thus far.
The Dagestani fighter’s professional MMA record is 11-2 having only tasted defeat in his first ever professional bout in 2010 and against rival Chris Gutierrez at WSOF28. He later redeemed himself against Gutierrez at WSOF33 with a unanimous decision victory.
When Valiev faced Gutierrez for the first time, he was utterly shocked when he lost via decision. He felt like he dominated the fellow bantamweight for the full three rounds. Gutierrez snapped Valiev’s 10-fight win streak in that fight and is the only loss in 5-1 WSOF career.
The Russian has spent an ample amount of time in the United States training and competing in high level MMA. Unfortunately, the language barrier has been difficult for him, but Valiev believes his camp for WSOF35 is the best he’s had. This is do in part because he’s absorbed more from his coaches thanks to an increased understanding of English.
The title challenger walked onto the WSOF canvas for the first time in 2014 a 6-1 prospect riding a 5-fight win streak with all of his fights being outside of North America – the mecca of elite MMA. His first fight in the U.S. came against Adam Acquaviva at WSOF10 which he won via TKO (flying knee); a feat not all foreign fighters can say they were able to do.
Last year when Bleacher Report laid out their top 25 prospects in the sport Valiev was ranked in the Top 10 coming in at No. 3 on their highly regarded list.