Part of a stacked undercard at Bellator 256 on Friday night was the promotional debut of flyweight Diana Avsaragova — and the Russian newcomer did not disappoint.
It took all of 29 seconds for Avsaragova to finish off Tara Graff in the preliminary card bout. Where Graff was aggressive and scrappy, Avsaragova was measured and technical, knocking out Graff with a perfectly timed combination. And while Graff’s now 1-3 record is going to level expectations some, Avsaragova performed exactly as needed. More so, really.
“I was expecting a longer fight, I was expecting to go all three rounds, but obviously it didn’t go that way,” Avsaragova (3-0) told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight.
The fight was the Russian’s first in two years, but “Pantera” has stayed busy as a training partner of Liana Jojua, among others. She admitted Friday night to some nerves ahead of her return. “I was nervous. I had a long layoff, I hadn’t fought in two and a half years, so I was obviously nervous coming in,” she stated. “But right before it was time to walk out, I came down, and I was fine. I felt great.”
The talk surrounding Diana Avsaragova ahead of her promotional debut at Bellator 256 was more about her social media content and follower count than her technical ability. The Russian beauty has built a sizeable following on Instagram, without posting anything particularly racy, an impressive feat in and of itself. But that has also brought about critics that see her as more of an “influencer” or social media figure than fighter. “Smokeshow,” “starlet,” and the like seem to come up more than “fighter” or “athlete” when it comes to Avsaragova — but she feels that following Bellator 256, she has proved the critics wrong.
“I had a lot of people that cheered for me, and wished me well, and then there was a lot of doubters that thought that this was the highest level, and I’m not ready for it, it’s really not my thing,” Avsaragova told Cageside Press on Friday. “So yeah, I think I’ve proved them all wrong.”
The impressive part? With the fight going just 29 seconds, she didn’t even get to show everything she had. “I don’t think I showed everything I have to offer. The fight was very short, so I still have some tricks up my sleeve, and something that will keep the fans entertained.”
Watch the full Bellator 256 post-fight press conference with Diana Avsaragova above.