Race to find fighting talent is on
Early last month, Sherdog.com ran a story worth reading that focused on Russian fighters signing with Bellator.
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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.
Bellator 82 grades
Mission accomplished. Andrey Koreshkov capped a terrific 2012 with his fifth victory of the year, all for Bellator. The 22-year-old Russian finally ran into some resistance over the three-fight welterweight tournament, which should temper expectations somewhat. Still, there's plenty to like. Koreshkov was a notch above Lyman Good on Friday, particularly with his hands -- speed with accuracy is what he does best. The decision was clear cut, yet Koreshkov (13-0) seemed to leave a lot on the table.
Alexander Sarnavskiy promised much more than the plodding decision he delivered against 26-year-old journeyman Tony Hervey. Returning to the cage after losing for the first time in 21 fights, "Tiger" spoke of all sorts of mayhem, yet he did little more than use the floor to control Hervey (15-13). Coming into Bellator's latest lightweight tournament, the 23-year-old Russian was atop the list of realistic winners. It's too soon to tell if the experience set him back or set him up to grow. More efforts like the one he put on Hervey would be a disappointment.
Looks great. Comes to fight. Well prepared. Lyman Good, 27, would seem to have it all, but thus far in the most important moments of his career, he hasn't come through. I don't think that means much more than the obvious: Good's not much better than his name suggests.
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