Commentary

Race to find fighting talent is on

Originally Published: December 3, 2012
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Early last month, Sherdog.com ran a story worth reading that focused on Russian fighters signing with Bellator.

The promotion credited a television deal in Russia and the influence of middleweight Alexander Shlemenko for a recent influx of young, talented fighters hailing from the place that produced Fedor Emelianenko.

In the finals of the Bellator Season 7 welterweight tournament over the weekend, one of the young Russian products, Andrey Koreshkov, came through a winner. (More on him in a minute.) This hits on a larger point. Talent scouting will be one of those under-the-radar stories that's worth paying attention to in 2013. Between what Zuffa and Bellator are up to, you're talking nearly 600 fighters under contract.

Add in upstarts like World Series of Fighting, Glory, OneFC, RFA and others, and the race for identifying and signing young fighters has probably never been more active or competitive.

Since it was a quiet weekend, a short report card is in the offing.

Next week we'll have much more following Benson Henderson's UFC lightweight title defense against Nate Diaz, which headlines an excellent FOX card in Seattle.