Yaroslav Amosov was fighting for something much bigger than himself this past weekend.
At Bellator 291, Amosov returned to the cage after a 19-month layoff to unify his welterweight title in a fight with interim champ Logan Storley. Amosov was forced to leave for a prolonged time due to the Russian invasion in Ukraine and his desire to defend their homeland with the champion at welterweight.
Many wondered what Amosov’s appearance would be after his long absence. He looked great, winning his welterweight title by a unanimous decision over Storley. Amosov spoke to Ariel Helwani Monday and said that his struggle with Storley was one of the main reasons.
“It’s a very big motivation,” Amosov said on The MMA Hour. When I see [see] photos, I recall what it was like. Every time someone asks me about my feelings and shows me pictures, it is a huge motivation for me. It’s difficult for Ukraine now and I would love to win this belt for Ukraine. I think it’s very good.”
Amosov was conceived in Irpin (a town outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv). In February of 2022, Russian forces began the Kyiv offensive, with designs on encircling the city for its eventual capture. Irpin was host to one of the battles of this offensive, prompting Amosov’s decision to stay and defend his country. At the time, there were talks of Amosov defending his title against Michael “Venom” Page, but when his city came under attack, Amosov said that there wasn’t a choice to make.
“When I stay in my city, Irpin it’s the frontline,” he said. I didn’t know the date war [would] would end in my country or my hometown. I [didn’t] know what I [would] do later. It was like I thought, “Now, I’m in [the] War,” and it wasn’t clear to me. After the liberation of the centre of Ukraine, I thought, “Maybe now, I go back to my cage,” and many others said, “Let’s go Yaroslav.” It is your duty to defend the belt. You must [go] return the cage. I agreed and that was .”
The Battle of Irpin lasted for a month, with Russian troops initially able to capture much of the city. However, Ukrainian forces were eventually able to repel the invasion and recapture the city in full by the end of March 2022. The battle reportedly resulted in over 420 casualties, nearly three hundred of which were civilian.
During the fighting, Amosov wasn’t really thinking about his MMA career.
“One year ago, I thought maybe [I wouldn’t] come back, because I didn’t know what [would happen] after five minutes,” he said. I don’t think about MMA. I think about my country, my people, my friends with me in the army. [I did not] I stopped thinking about MMA in my hometown, and only then did I consider it a possibility. [was] Training is for me, it’s recovery. I like stuff like training, and for me it’s for my head, good for recovery.”
While the Russo-Ukrainian War is still ongoing, Amosov’s part in direct conflict is done, for now. Bellator’s welterweight champion stated that he is not going to return to military service at this time, but will support his country as much as he can. He will divide his time between Ukraine, Poland and Poland where his family is currently staying during wartime. In the meantime, he will do what he does best: fight in the cage.
But not quite yet. But not yet. “Dynamo”, after a hard-fought year and an exhausting recovery, has finally been granted a break.
” I think I’m going to Ukraine now and I’ll see,” Amosov stated. Although I know the date, I’m sure I would like to go back. Because I used to train for MMA, I don’t think about it now. I just want to relax and spend time with my friends and family. I need recovery.”