- Roman Kopylov is a five-time world champion in hand-to-hand combat sambo.
- Both his parents helped him nurture his passion for hand-to-hand combat.
The UFC has been a platform for lesser-known upcoming talent from across the globe to showcase their skills and make it big in combat sports. It has been quite successful in scouting out lesser-known mixed martial artists who have gone on to create a huge impact in the MMA scene. This would include UFC icons such as Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagedomeov, and Jon Jones, to name a few.
One such name currently gaining recognition would be Russian mixed martial artist Roman Kopylov. The middleweight was signed with the promotion in 2019. He is a five-time world champion in hand-to-hand combat sambo and has won several European and Russian championships. This often draws in comparison to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Both fighters have been advocates for sambo as the superior martial arts discipline and have dominated in their respective fields. Khabib has been a two-time world champion in combat sambo before taking on MMA and using his skills in the octagon. Kopylov did make noise about being considered a superior Sambo Champion and having more titles and wins in the same.
Roman Kopylov’s journey from becoming a combat sambo world champion to the UFC
Roman Kopylov was born in a small village in the Kemerovo region of Russia. And began training at the early age of 9. Both his parents were former athletes who nurtured his passion for hand-to-hand combat. He went on to win trophies at various levels, from city to regional and higher-level competitions, starting in 2010.
After being a five-time world champion in sambo, he decided to take on the path to MMA. He fought in promotions such as Fight Nights Global, S-70: Plotforma Cup, and WCSA Combat Ring in Russia and entered the UFC with an undefeated streak of 8 wins. Unfortunately, he faced two straight losses against Karl Roberson and Albert Duraev at UFC Fight Night 163 and UFC 267, respectively.
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The UFC fighter then regrouped himself and secured four straight victories in his next fights. He was also awarded two Performance of the Night bonuses. All his wins were via finishes, with his last victory coming over Josh Fremd at UFC Fight Night 227 via knockout. He is scheduled to face Anthony Hernandez, replacing the injured Ikram Aliskerov, on February 17, 2024, at UFC 298.
Fedor Emelianenko and how he helped Roman Kopylov achieve his UFC dream
Roman Kopylov has often shared his appreciation for the pioneer of sambo and Russian mixed martial arts, Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor was a four-time combat Sambo World Champion, a PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and has won over four former UFC champions.
Roman stated, “I was inspired by Fedor Emelianenko. I think I won’t surprise anyone if I say that this is Fedor Emelianenko. He was already a cult fighter at the peak of his career, and his fights inspired me.” This was during one of his early interviews with News.ru. He credits a lot of his success to the Sambo icon, who put the fighting style on the map for future combat sports.