Hello, dear friends! To give you a little break from football, i again went to RCC MMA Academy in Yekaterinburg. I came here to chat with the Russian UFC fighter known as “Wolverine” – Alexey Kunchenko! Considering UFC is coming to Moscow again soon, i think he has a lot to say! COME ON! Alexey, thank you for chatting to me! What are your plans for the nearest UFC future? UFC is coming to Moscow again soon – are you planning to fight in the capital again? My last fight was not successful, so i decided to do additional training now. I have invited Sharap Gitinov from St. Petersburg – a prominent wrestling MMA coach. And he brought his students to help as well – because they are all better wrestlers than us. So i’d love to fight in Moscow, but now i want to improve my wrestling skills. I lost my last fight because of wrestling. So i am not in a rush to fight in Moscow – especially on short notice. It is great that another UFC night is held in Moscow, but i should’ve prepared for that well in advance. And also – i fought there last year, so i’d rather fight somewhere else now. Like where? Like Singapore, but the event there is scheduled for October 26th – i won’t be able to prepare for that. I’d rather fight in December – by then, i think, i will be better at wrestling. I have planned a few trips already – to gain more training and exchange experience. So i would use these two months to be more prolific when it comes to wrestling. And i am planning to participate in a tournament in Korea in December. But those are my plans. I don’t know yet what UFC has in store for me. Can’t say im the one making decisions in these matters – although i still have the final word. So, basically, you’ve taken a strategic break – right? I recently spoke to Petr Yan, and he was raring to have a fight until the end of the year! Well, he’s had a long break – having had surgery and recovery period. Naturally, he wants to train and fight – being bored after a two-month-long lay-off. He’s had enough time to recover – and he now wants to fight in December. Of course he is raring to go! Five-six months without a fight is never a good thing! If you have several weeks between the fights – and then a two month break – that would be normal for a fighter. That is enough time to recover and prepare. He’s had a longer lay-off so of course he is hungry now and wants to fight! The fact that UFC is coming to Russia again, having held fight nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg – and one of the UFC bosses said that Moscow’s night was the 5th in terms of views in the entire history of the Championship – how important is it for MMA in Russia? That UFC seems to be a regular feature here. It is very important – both for the young fighters and for us, professional fighters with long records. It is fantastic that we have UFC here – because it is the strongest league in the world! The fact that they are here is still a bit of a shock to many of us. Already held in Moscow and St. Petersburg – and if they keep on coming here, our MMA market will flourish! Even people who are not into MMA know it because of UFC. An ice hockey player recognized me yesterday and said hi. Even they are interested in MMA now. The sport is developing rapidly, but UFC can boost it even more. People see that UFC is in Russia – they come to training gyms and train. And many professional athletes now have a chance to perform there – so they have extra motivation. And, as a result, our gyms are filling up! Which is a very positive thing! And our children will be fit and have a strong character too! It’s great to see that many of them are packing gyms – instead of spending all their time with gadgets. I spoke to Petr Yan a while ago – about Russians within the UFC. He told me it was hard for Russians there – due to language barrier and perception of our fighters by others. Has it been difficult for you in the UFC? It is not difficlut – if you have someone by your side who knows English! But yeah – the language barrier exists. My English is very poor. Sometimes i am somewhere without a manager or an interpeter – and it is difficult. But that is the biggest issue – that i cannot explain myself. Although mobile phones have apps which help. Or i can always call someone to help me out with the language. But knowing English is paramount. Im sure Petr told you that the spectators love when you talk to them. It puts you on their radar. If i win and won’t be able to say a word – they wont take notice. They always talk English there. You have to understand what is being said and react to it. You have to write in English on social media and chat with the fans in English. So yes – the language barrier is a major complication for the Russian fighters. And one other complication – we won’t have many UFC nights here because of time differences, which affects broadcasts While we are fighting, they are sleeping. So it makes little commercial sense to them An American would not wake up early to watch a Russian fight. They don’t know Russia. Some of them still think that it always snows here and polar bears walk the streets. They ask “is that really so?” and we jokingly say yes! But many don’t know Russia at all. So they won’t watch those fights live. But we are makign a name for ourselves already. We’ve held several tournaments in Russia already. And we have a generation of MMA stars coming up – like Petr Yan and Magomedsharipov These guys are putting on spectacular fights! That attracts the audience – not the domestic one, we know them, but international viewers. I think these guys will make Russia famous! Ahead of the Khabib-Poirier fight, you said that Khabib was Russia’s best athlete It’s hard to argue with that. You can see for yourself – it is a stonewall fact. He won the belt, defended the belt. What else does he have to prove? He can defend the belt once more. But you can see – he wins all his fights early. He beat McGregor through a choke. And now Poirier – months of preparations and Khabib just crushed him. So why would anyone question him? Had he won by points – ok. But he wins it all clean – and nobody can do anything about him. Do you think anyone can give him a fight? Because he really seems to destroy everyone inside the octagon. I don’t know. Gaethje has been making some noise. But everyone wants to make money off Khabib now! He’s a popular fighter, so many beat their chest about fighting him – just to make money. But before that nobody wanted to fight him. Since he became big, many see an opportunity to make money. They say “i can beat him!”. Many do. But, in reality, i don’t see who can beat him now. At least in this weight category. If he moves to 77kg category, he might struggle there. But in the 70kg category – he simply has no rivals! They say Ferguson is dangerous. But i don’t see any danger from him to Khabib. He likes to brawl, of course. And he’s tall and lean – which makes him a tough opponent. But it won’t be too hard to wrestle him. And if they start wrestling, he stands no chance against Khabib. He would win this fight just like he won all others. Yes, Ferguson has endurance and passion. But Khabib will control him. He feels the fight well. Knows when to control and when to defend. He won’t let him do a thing! So i think he would win that fight early too – through a choke or even on points. And if we’re talking about the whole of UFC in all weight categories – who do you consider as the best fighter now? I think when it comes to the style of fighting, Cejudo is an interesting fighter He’s an Olympic Gold medalist in the past and i like his style – the variety of it. He brawls and wrestles equally good. Yan vs Cejudo would be a cracking fight, eh? Yeah, i’d love to watch that fight! Interesting! Finally, you said that you’ve taken a break now. But is there any fighter you’d love to fight in the near future? I don’t really plan for the near future. I’d love to be given a fight by UFC though. Because sometimes the breaks are too long. But i dont feel like begging for a fight with anyone. But if i got to chose – i would fight Masvidal. Interesting guy with a lot of publicity now! I would both fight him and get some publicity too! He’s more of a puncher than a wrestler, so that would be an interesting fight! I’d want to fight “Cowboy” Ceronne, but he’s fighting in the 70kg category. Interesting fighter too. Do you consider Masvidal as the new MMA star? He knocked Asker out and instantly became popular. That is despite he had been fighting for many years and did not get too much attention. One fight made him famous! But he is a dangerous and interesting fella. Goes out there to brawl – which makes a fight much more fun!