By Alexander Iazykov & Jake Smith
“My goal is the UFC belt!”
Five words synonymous with many young, aspiring mixed martial artists. If 22-year-old Victoria Dudakova’s career continues on the trajectory it is currently on, this goal could likely be reached.
In an interview with Alexander Iazykov of the RMMAU, the IMMAF multiple medalist reflected on her career so far, entry into the sport and her achievements in the combat sports arena so far.
Having been an athlete since her early years, it was inevitable Dudakova would go on to reach a high level of competition, a professional combat sports career wasn’t always in the picture. She explained:
“I’ve been in sports since I was a kid. When I was 7 years old my parents sent me to swimming to learn how to swim. I liked it, so for the next 6-7 years my main dream was to become an Olympic swimming champion.
To be honest, I don’t remember the emotions of my first competitions, but I remember the joy of the first ones I won. I am the Master of Sports of Russia in swimming, a multiple champion of Russia in juniors.
Now, after some time, I think that my age of transition and the absence of sports in my life played a role in my choice of MMA.”
The role Ronda Rousey played in increasing interest in women’s MMA is undeniable, and played a major factor in Dudakova wanting to parktake; and from the outset it was clear the Russian had a natural flair.
“I saw Ronda Rousey and I wanted to try it at once, but I would have hardly dared if not for my mother. She found a section near my house and told me I could go there and try it out, whether I liked it or not.
“I ended up Champion of Russia Cup in kickboxing 17-18 years old, Winner of the Russian championship in martial arts, the champion of Russia in hand-to-hand fighting under 21 years old, finalist of Russian national MMA championship, European champion in MMA
& Bronze medal of World Championship in MMA.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the strawweight. She found it difficult to not only find a coach, but to find a coach who was willing to train girls. Fortunately, she found Gasanali Gasanaliev and from there, she developed a strong team around her including her Russian MMA Union ‘family’.
“I earned all the regalia in amateur martial arts when I moved to my trainer Gasanali Gasanaliev at the end of 2018.
“When I first came to the martial arts hall, I wanted to do MMA right away, but it so happened that there was no coach who could teach me plus almost no one wanted to train girls.
“I always have my trainer and my sparring partners with me. When I’m getting ready to fight the guys all help me. Same thing, when they’re getting ready, I’m helping them. It works both ways, we are one team. And of course Gasanali, he’s always around, trying to make us better.
“Performing on amateurs, first of all, gave me a tremendous experience. I competed with the best MMA girls in the world.
“And also, you could say I gained a great family. The Russian MMA Union is my family. I keep in touch with almost everyone with whom I went to international starts. I always feel bad for them, just like they do for me. Many of us have now turned pro. And now we try to show the level of the Russian MMA Union there.
“When I won the European MMA Championship, I felt happy that I didn’t let my coach down.
“I remember all my amateur fights. At the Russian and European Championships, and of course my fight at the World Championships.”
Looking at the differences between the amateur competitions to the professional ranks, Dudakova admits she found the amateur scene more difficult.
“If you compare performance on amateurs, probably, in some ways, to perform on amateurs is even more difficult. You have at least 3 fights per competition, every day you have to be in a weight plus different opponents, which you have to figure out in a short time: get ready and tune up. As for professional fights, there you know the opponent in advance and prepare purely for him. The only thing is that it’s a 5 minute round, not 3 minutes like in amateurs and of course there are more elbows.“Already on June 12th I have fight on Open FC, if I win, the following fight is already for a belt of this organization. As for my plans for my professional career in MMA, the UFC belt is my goal and I’ll do everything to reach it.”
Women’s European representation in the UFC is monumental, with the likes of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Germaine de Randamie leading the charge. Dudakova will be hoping she can play a pivotal role in the next wave of women’s talent from the continent.