The 2012 Tatneft Cup started off on December 17 of 2011, with the first stage of selections, the 1/8 finals. The first stage continues in a week on January 21st, as always in Kazan, Russia. The promoter, Munir Akhmetov, does a great job in finding good fighters from around the world that aren't that well known. Alexander Oleinik, Alexander Stetsurenko, Hicham Achalhi and countless others have all emerged as fighters to look for from their stints at the Tatneft Cup. The match-ups for the second selection of the first stage on January 21st are set and once again, some fighters that we know nothing about get their chance to emerge as exceptional talents.
Tsotne Rogava (Ukraine) vs. Tsutomu Takahagi (Japan)
Dmitry Bezus (Ukraine) vs. Luis Morais (Portugal)
Omar Amrani (Germany) vs. Errol Koning (Netherlands)
Vitaly Nikiforov (Ukraine) vs. Rain Karkinen (Estonia)
Edvin Erik Kibus (Estonia) vs. Masakazu Watanabe (Japan)
Bruno Carvalho (Portugal) vs. Enriko Gogokhia (Georgia/Ukraine)
There's some familiar names on here. Tsotne Rogava fought in the 2010 Tatneft Cup and gave Ismael Londt a good fight, and the crazy thing is that Rogava was only about 16 or 17 at the time. Errol Koning fought Murthel Groenhart in June for It's Showtime. Masakazu Watanabe fought Yuya Yamamoto in a slugfest about a year ago. Last but not least, Enriko Gogokhia gave a good fight to Dzhabar Askerov in July and arguably should've gotten a win over Mike Zambidis in April.
For myself, it's always interesting to find out about fighters that I haven't seen before and that's one of the reasons why I love the Tatneft Cup. The first selection of the first stage brought in some fighters that I'm now quite aware of and interested in, like Leonildo Evora and Issam Regi.