Yaroslav Amosov had not competed inside the Bellator MMA cage since the summer of 2021. He had been busy with a more consequential fight.
Amosov, the welterweight champion from Ukraine who stepped away from MMA over a year ago to help defend his country against the Russian invasion, returned on Saturday to successfully defend his title with a dominant unanimous-decision victory over interim champ Logan Storley in the main event of Bellator 291 in Dublin, Ireland.
At 27-0, Amosov is the winningest undefeated fighter active in MMA. His unblemished record is surpassed in the sport’s history by only the 29-0 mark of retired UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
In February 2022, with his hometown of Irpin under siege, Amosov evacuated his family to safety, then returned to join the fight against Russian forces alongside several notable Ukrainian boxers, including former heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, current heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk and former lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Last April, Amosov posted on Instagram a video of him recovering his Bellator title belt from the rubble of his mother’s home in Irpin.
“Ukrainian people, I love you. I love you, my people,” Amosov said after Saturday’s fight in an interview inside the cage, to loud cheers from fans at 3Arena, some of whom were waving Ukrainian flags.
His voice cracking, Amosov thanked the Ukrainian army and all those “who helped my country. Please [do] not forget what’s happening.”
Amosov did not look like a fighter coming off a 20-month layoff. From the start, he walked down Storley and delivered damage to the head, torso and legs, putting together combinations of four, five and six punches and kicks. The champion’s defense was on point as well, as he fended off a dozen takedown attempts by Storley, a four-time Division I All-American collegiate wrestler.
Storley (14-2) withstood it all for five rounds, his face bloodied in the first five minutes and his lead leg badly compromised early on as well. But he simply had no answers against Amosov, who earned 50-45 scorecards from all three judges.
Both of Storley’s losses have come against Amosov. He earned this second shot at the champ by earning an interim belt last May with a split-decision win over Michael “Venom” Page.