Truth springs from argument: Is Oleg Taktarov the first Russian champion in UFC history?

October 09, 05:19 pm
Максим Гагарин
Truth springs from argument: Is Oleg Taktarov the first Russian champion in UFC history?

Some time back a conflict heated up between MMA pioneer Oleg Taktarov (17-5-2) and Russian UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s (28-0) father. Even though this time the conflict was short, the parties had time to say a couple of “warm words” to each other.

The reason of friction between the representatives of the past and present of MMA is mere pride. The athletes failed to share the title of the first Russian champion in the UFC history. Taktarov is sure that his three wins on one evening in July of 1995 and the title of the “superfight winner” give him right to claim the title while Khabib’s father thinks it is his son who should be considered the first Russian UFC champion.

If we dig deeper, we can see that Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s words make sense in some way but it doesn’t mean that Taktarov’s merits should be dismissed. The first official UFC title was awarded in 1997 and his holder was Mark Coleman who had also earned the “superfight winner” title. He defeated Dan Severn in February 1997 and the official words were: Won the first UFC championship title in the heavyweight division and unified it with the “superfight winner” title. The key words here are “championship title” which confirms Nurmagomedov’s words, especially given the fact that after the undisputed title was awarded, its outdated counterpart was annuled. Given the abovementioned arguments, we can conclude that it was Khabib who became the first holder of the title as we know it today.

Still, we can’t say that Taktarov doesn’t have any serious merits, as during the first years of the promotion that title was the highest award; it now reminds of those grand-prix winners that were known in Pride and other promotions. Even UFC president Dana White decided to dodge a question when he was asked about Taktarov’s claims. It’s quite possible that Oleg was a victim of discourse that was ever-changing in MMA infancy as a sport.