|Heavyweight (Per 1/20)|
|6.||Mirko Cro Cop
|Light HW (per 1/20)|
|Middleweight (per 1/20)|
|Welterweight (per 1/20)|
|4.||Marc de Bonte|
|70kg (Per 1/20)|
|2.||Robin van Roosmalen|
|65kg (per 1/20)|
Eastern Europe is quietly becoming one of the areas where more and more strikers are entering MMA. Konstantin Gluhov (as highlighted here), Zabit Samedov and a bevy of lesser known strikers from Eastern Europe have dawned the open gloves and participated in MMA this year and in years past. One of the best up and coming heavyweights out of the area in my opinion is Alexei Kudin.
In kickboxing, Kudin is probably most known for fighting Pavel Zhuravlev six times. Yes, six times. Although his record against Zhuravlev isn't very pretty at 1-4-1, all the fights have been competitive with three split decisions, a majority decision and a draw between them. Recently, Kudin won the IFMA European Championships of Muay Thai, defeating Dmitry Bezus in the final. Kudin stands 6'2, 242 pounds. With the recent major success of Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, it's a body frame that is quite optimal for MMA if the skills and speed are possessed to make up for the strength of the behemoths in the division.
Of Kudin's four wins this year, three have been stoppages with punches. He seems to favor the hands when he fights in MMA and rightfully so, as they pose less threat of getting taken down than kicks and knees do. He'll often leave his hands a bit low, but he doesn't mind eating a few shots for it as long as he can effectively counter with punches. His fight with Dmitry Poberezhets is a good gauge of where he's at, stylewise and skillwise.
Kudin recently won a ProFC tournament in Moldova, stopping both of his opponents in under a minute, including a seven second knockout in the first fight (video). In the second fight, he dropped his opponent with low kicks and finished off on the ground. Low kicks are a weapon that Kudin should definitely use more in MMA, even if there's a bigger threat of getting taken down. Kudin's low kicks pack some power and most MMA fighters won't be able to handle them if hit cleanly a few times.
The opportunities are there in Eastern Europe, more specifically Russia for MMA fighters to keep active. Even if the opposition is week, staying active with fights is good for progression and experience. Then again, Kudin could always head back to stand up fighting too, where there are some pretty good cards coming up in Russia. Most fighters in Eastern Europe who compete in both stand up fighting and MMA often compete in both, as there's more opportunities to make money between them, rather than just one. If Kudin is serious about doing MMA full time, he could turn out to be a pretty decent heavyweight.