At M-1 Challenge XXII on December 10th, M-1 Selection 2010 Eastern Europe champ Shamil Zavurov, will represent himself and his St. Petersburg-based Rusfighters club in the title fight for the M-1 Challenge welterweight championship belt. In preparation for the upcoming bout, Zavurov took some out time out to answer a few questions for M-1 Global and MixFight.ru.
Q: Shamil, because you’re a native of Dagestan, did your venture into combat sports begin with wrestling?
SV: That’s correct. Practically all the boys are involved in freestyle wrestling from a young age. Myself nor my brother are exceptions. I began training in 1996 in Makhachkala in high school with a phenomenal trainer, champion of the USSR 1977-78 team, Mairbek Yusupov, who eventually became coach of Dagestan’s freestyle wrestling team. I also started practicing Wushu Sanda and in 2002 won the championship of Dagestan in the youth division. After that, my coach began to focus more attention on Wushu Sanda. In 2003, the country created a federation of Combat Sambo and I took a liking to this sport since I already had similar experience. I competed in Combat Sambo until 2007.
Q: What have you achieved in these sports?
SV: I was the champion of Dagestan in 2002, winner of an international tournament in Wushu Sanda in 2003, champion of the CIS in fighting in 2003 and 2004, the champion of Russia in 2005 and 2007, world champion 2004, 2005 and 2007 in Combat Sambo. Being involved in combat sambo led me to compete in various ‘mixed fighting’ (MMA) tournaments but not at a very high level.
Q: It is true that in combat sambo you went 151 matches without a loss?
SV: Yes, for five years I never lost in combat sambo or in other sports. I live to train and give the sports my dedication. This is how I earn a living to feed my family. My first defeat was my fifth (MMA) fight.
Q: Why the transition to mixed martial arts?
SV: I was familiar with the Rusfighters club president, Alex Zhernakova. Back when I trained Sambo, we traveled to various tournaments before I was drafted into the army. In 2008, I was seriously injured and we lost touch for about a year. Eventually I phoned Alexei and he invited me to compete at an M-1 mixfight event. The first fight with them was in November 2009 in St. Petersburg against Rashid Magomedov from the “Highlander” team. The battle proved to be quite controversial and drew a great deal of attention. It was the general opinion that I won the first two rounds but the judge saw it otherwise and awarded a third round after scoring it one round a piece. At the end, the judges deliberated long and gave the victory to my opponent. Even though it has been a long time, I still wonder at the outcome.
Q: How many MMA fights do you have in total?
SV: According to official statistics today, I am 12-1. In fact, I have had 18 professional fights by the rules of mixed martial arts with a record of 17-1.
Q: What kind of martial arts, in your opinion, is best suited as a base for MMA?
SV: I think Combat Sambo is key as well as wrestling. But you need to have effective striking and submission skills.
Q: During your sporting career, you have changed clubs and coaches. Why?
SV: Pursuing different types of martial arts, I’ve worked with many clubs and coaches. In mixed martial arts, I now train only with Rusfighters. For the last 5-6 years, my only coach has been the honored, senior coach of Dagestan, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Q: Do you have a desire to resume competing in Sambo?
SV: Right now I have a contract with M-1 Global but if the opportunity arises, I would like to speak to the Russian league, maybe even this year, and compete in Sambo. Everything depends on the schedule of fights M-1.
Q: What were your goals for this year?
SV: To be successful. This year, I fought many times and won them all. I also won the M-1 Selection tournament in Eastern Europe. But there is still time before the end of the year to become the M-1 champion.
Q: Tell us about your most memorable fight?
SV: The hardest fight was in January of this year in Omsk at the “Battle of the Gladiators” against Seydina Seck. I broke my arm, damaged ligaments and the injuries still hurt today. It wasn’t the first time I had to fight three rounds but this was so hard a fight, even I doubted winning. In the end of the third round, I got myself together and attacked which probably persuaded the judges to give me a victory. Before coming to Russia, Seck spoke about our strong fighters from Dagestan. I knew he was a very serious contender and the fight with him was probably the hardest in my entire career.
Q: You have chosen for very difficult job for yourself and are passionate about it. Would you like to see you children follow in your footsteps?
SV: Yes, although not necessarily for them to engage in fighting and sports professionally. I will surely get them involved in sports but to what level will depend on them individually.
Q: It seems unlikely they will be able to avoid competing in some form of martial arts. Do you encourage it?
SV: Of course. I think every man should learn discipline, to learn to fend for themselves. If they do not want to compete professionally, I still support them training. The desire to become a professional athlete brings a great deal of pressure that needs to be overcome. If you don’t have ‘desire’, and are pushed into it, training becomes pointless. I have worked with the young guys and have seen this first hand. I don’t believe you can achieve results in anything if you are forced into it. Desire and passion come from within.
Q: After your fighting career, are you going get into coaching?
SV: I don’t know yet. I graduated from the Faculty of Physical Culture and Sports of the Dagestan State Pedagogical University and the Faculty of Law of the Dagestan Institute of Finance and Law. Higher education allows choice but that is so far away. I’m focused on my athletic career right now.
Q: A professional sports career is hard work and often monotonous. Have you ever had a desire to drop everything and do something else?
SV: From time to time. But when there is a break in training, even due to injury, a week here or there, the thought is gone. This has become part of my life. It is something I can’t give up.
Q: What is the role of a manager in the professional development of a fighter?
SV: Without a manager, a fighter can only obtain attain a certain level. Fighting in Dagestan, a fighter do great things but he is limited. To grow and fight abroad, you need a good manager and his role is no less than that of a coach. The coach prepares you for battle and the manager arranges the fight and negotiates terms and purse.
Q: If not for sports and MMA, what would you see yourself doing?
SV: Honestly, I don’t know.
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Zavurov Shamil Magomedovich. Born April 7, 1984 in the village Kirovaul Kizilyurt District of Dagestan.
Freestyle wrestling started in 1996 in Makhachkala in high school sports under the guidance of the Honored trainer, champion of the USSR 1977-78′s Mairbek Yusupov.
Since 2002, engaged in Wushu Sanda, since 2003 – combat sambo.
Champion of Dagestan in 2002 among young people, winner of international tournament in 2003 at the Wushu Sanda, champion of the CIS on fighting in 2003 and 2004, the champion of Russia in 2005 and 2007, world champion 2004, 2005 and 2007 in Combat Sambo. Master of Sports in freestyle wrestling, world-class athlete on hand to hand combat and combat Sambo.
In mixed martial arts advocates since 2009. Professional boxing according to the rules mixfight had 10 fights with one defeat, which has suffered in his first fight in the tournament M-1 Selection in St. Petersburg in 2009. Stands for the St. Petersburg fight club Rusfighters.
The winner of the Championship M-1 Selection 2010 Eastern Europe.
Married. Has two sons and a daughter.
He graduated from the Faculty of Physical Culture and Sports of the Dagestan State Pedagogical University and the Faculty of Law of the Dagestan Institute of Finance and Law.
Author: Alexander BELIK