By Caolite de Barra
In the opening round of the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships Super Heavyweight division Griogriy Ponomarev and Shamil Gaziev in an entertaining three-round battle. Less than three years later, they meet again, although this time they will be wearing 4oz gloves over 5-minute rounds.
That fight was the only year Shamil Gaziev failed to medal at an IMMAF competition and is surrounded by controversy after Ponomarev went on to win silver. Only to have the medal rescinded following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 for the presence of Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone LTM (DHCMT-LTM).
A 2-year ban was imposed on Ponomarev and following his suspension he opted to turn pro, signing with Russian promotion, AMC Fight Nights in November of 2020.
Since turning pro the 25-year-old has had two fights, finishing them both within the two-minute mark of the fight. His debut was the more impressive of the two as he defeated a 13-fight pro in Shakhmaral Dzhetpisov. He previously had been champion in the Kazakhstan based promotion, Alash Pride FC.
KHK MMA Team fighter, Shamil Gaziev went on a seven-fight tear in 2019 after dropping down to Heavyweight. A run that saw him finish every fight and top the podium at each of the African, Asian and European Open Championships. His incredible win streak while representing Bahrain cemented himself as one of the best amateur fighters in the world and was put to a halt at the World Championships by the eventual winner, Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov.
The loss saw Gaziev settle for a Bronze medal and less than a year later he made the jump to pro. The former student of Abdulamanap Nurmagomedov boasts an undefeated pro record of his own at 5-0. His fights have been across both Belarus and Russia and have all been by way of finish.
The rematch between both of these men is one of the fights to watch this weekend as Gaziev looks to avenge that early amateur loss whilst Ponomarev looks to leave his amateur controversy behind him. This fight between two of the most highly touted upcoming Russian Heavyweights is not expected to make it to the distance when they meet on Friday.