After making headlines last week with some solid additions to its roster, Russian mixed martial arts promotion Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) is ready to make its England debut with action-packed ACB 54 event in Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
Founded in 2014, ACB is the brainchild of founder Mairbek Khasiev, and employs the “Less Show, More Fighting” concept – an idea that focuses on providing evenly matched bouts without relying on out-of-the-cage showmanship of the fighters.
After placing 20 of their first events in their home Grozny, Chechnya, in 2014, ACB started exploring the markets in other Russian cities, as well as in Georgia, Romania, Tajikistan and Poland, adding another 20 shows to their record in 2015.
Last year was marked by 26 shows, including in Belgium, Netherlands and Scotland.
The promotion started 2017 with its first show in United States, hosted in Irvine, California, on January 13. After going to Austria and Poland afterward, ACB is now ready to host its first event on English soil, at the iconic Manchester Arena, most commonly known for staging boxing events.
As Khalidov, who made his name with Polish MMA promoter KSW, and stands 32-4 in professional MMA, now considered the top middleweight outside of the UFC, Barnatt will look for a win to move up in the weight class rankings.
“[Fighting with Khalidov] enables me to prove I am one of the top 15 middleweights in the world,” Barnatt recently said to WHOATV, as cited by bloodyelbow.com.
“It gives me options and catapults my career.”
“I am the Italian champion under Venator, he is the Polish champion under KSW. He is the King of Poland, I am the King of Italy, and we are now going to England to determine the King of Chechnya.”
The ACB 54 card will also feature other notable names, such as Manchester fighter Saul Rogers, who has the distinction of winning all four of his fights in the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 22, but wasn’t able to step into the promotion’s octagon due to US visa issues.
Rogers’ progress in the professional MMA world – where he now boasts a record of 12 wins and only one defeat, and the fact that he will perform in Manchester – has recently attracted attention from English Premier League giants Manchester United.
The club sent cameras from their official channel MUTV to track “The Hangman” in a documentary as he puts the finishing touches to his preparations – where he sparred with former player David May.
One more Manchester native fighter, Kane Mousah, who is also taking part in the event, signaled his excitement in a post on Twitter.
“ACB 54 is around the corner and I’m War Ready. Cannot wait to perform in front of my great home city of Manchester,” he said.
— Kane (@Kane86mousah) February 28, 2017
Some major signings have joined the ACB ranks in the last two weeks, with seven notable fighters including unbeaten Brazilian bantamweight Matheus Mattos, ex-UFCs Zach Makovsky, Takeya Mizugaki and Elvis Mutapcic.
As Jenkins revealed on his Twitter, he accepted the fight at five days’ notice, but also stressed that he doesn’t mind the move, as he “lives for these moments.”
ACB is currently the biggest MMA promoter in Europe and ranked second in the world after American outfit the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), headed by CEO Dana White.
March 2 saw ACB celebrate its third year in existence, over which time over 700 fighters have taken part in more than 60 MMA events held by the Grozny-based company.