Yaroslav Amosov made a triumphant return to MMA after defeating Logan Storley by unanimous decision at Bellator 291 in Dublin.
The welterweight champion retained his title in his first fight since fighting in the Ukrainian army against the Russian invasion.
The 28-year-old Amosov was relentless and accurate in an almost flawless game.
All three judges saw the score 50-45 in favor of Amosov, who dedicated his victory to Ukraine.
Amosov was visibly emotional as he gave his post-fight speech, revealing before the fight that he only returned to fighting to promote peace in Ukraine.
“Ukrainian people, I love you,” said Amosov. “I want to say thank you, my Ukrainian army for protection, thank you for helping my country. Please don’t forget what is happening [в Україні]”.
Amosov improved to 27-0 as a professional fighter, extending the longest active undefeated streak in MMA and firmly claiming the title of the best welterweight in the world.
A performance to remember
Amosov returned to the Bellator cage over the weekend on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Twelve months ago, he tried to get his family across the border safely, then traveled to his hometown of Irpin to protect it.
He abandoned his planned first title defense last May to stay in Ukraine, offering Storley a chance to become interim champion in his absence, but has since been persuaded by family and friends to promote peace in Ukraine by resuming his fighting career.
Amosov used the spotlight to tell his story and Ukraine’s story beautifully, and represented his country throughout the week in Dublin, none more so than his near-perfect performance against the 30-year-old Storley.
He entered the cage wearing a T-shirt with the colors of the Ukrainian flag and the inscription “colors of freedom” – as Oleksandr Usyk did during the fight with Anthony Joshua last August.
Although both men were skilled grapplers, the first round was fought entirely on the feet.
Amosov was sharp and concise with his strikes, landing a hard left on Storley during the exchange before forcing the American back with another flurry seconds later.
Amosov switched to his striking game in the second and the pressure and variety of the undefeated champion made life difficult for Storli as he tried to close in on the Ukrainian.
Mixing short punches with punches to the head, Amosov stunned Storli again, and the swelling under the eye of the interim champion gradually increased.
Storley barely caught Amosov in the third, who responded with sharp counterattacks every time his opponent closed the gap.
The Ukrainian hurt Storley again with a left hook, followed by a series of quick punches and slammed him against the cage before knocking him down.
Storley was able to get to his feet and narrowly avoided another headbutt from Amosov as they moved away from each other.
In the fourth round, Storley landed a nice back elbow on Amosov in the clinch and then defended with a head kick despite his back.
Storley continued to storm Amosov despite blood pouring from his right eye, but the champion continued to dominate
Amosov looked for the finish in the last round, throwing everything he had at his opponent, but Storley was able to hang on.