Ahmed Wali Hotak made a successful return to the cage at Fight Nights 113 this weekend. The Afghan star claimed a hard fought decision win over Russia’s Vladimir Osipov in Krasnodov.
There has been controversy surrounding some of Hotak’s wins in Kabul. Opponents have claimed they were intimidated by the hostile atmosphere and heavy military presence. But nine of his 11 fights have been overseas and this was his fifth time travelling to Russia to compete.
The fight went the distance but all three judges scored it in favour of Hotak. He improves to 11-1 and extends his winning streak to four while his opponent drops to 13-14.
Hotak spent several weeks in Russia preparing for this bout. It must be difficult to get access to quality training in Afghanistan at present as the Taliban has banned MMA.
It appears Hotak is still able to train even though there is no prospect of any events being held in Kabul. But he would only have benefitted from the time spent preparing for the bout in Russia which has a thriving MMA scene:
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Fight Nights is one of the country’s biggest promotions and this weekend’s card was headlined by a light heavyweight title bout which had the vacant strap on the line. Vagab Vagabov (30-1-1) demonstrated why he is seen as one of Russia’s bets prospects wit ha fourth round TKO win over David Barkhudaryan (14-5).
The co-main event also had a title on the line. Welterweight champion Dmitry Bikrev (14-3) overcame challenger Ruslan Kolodko (13-9) by way of split decision.
Hotak turned 32 earlier this year and a 10-1 record is normally enough to make major promotions stand up and take notice. Beating a Russian fighter in Russia should help to assuage concerns that his wins have been compiled at the expense of hand picked opponents.
It can’t be easy to be a mixed martial artist in Afghanistan right now, although Hotak was able to call a press conference to publicize his fight. But it appears to be business as usual for the welterweight who wins for the first time since the Taliban took control of his country.