Call Him, Dana: Denis Lavrentyev

Denis Lavrentyev
Denis Lavrentyev Credit: Parus MMA/Denis Lavrentyev Instagram

Born in 1988 on September 18th, Denis Lavrentyev grew up in Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Russia. Prior to competing in MMA, Lavrentyev spent a large part of his life as a judo practitioner. Now boasting a 12-2 record as a professional, and on a six-fight winning streak, Lavrentyev might just be ready for “the call.”

Judo background

Lavrentyev competed at a high level in Judo as far back as 2008. He competed at that level until 2016. For eight consecutive years he earned a place on the Olympic judo team. He’s a former Russian National champion. Along with various national championships, he won gold in the Pan American and World championship level as well. Many of his championships captured at a youth level and other accomplishments are listed here.

Lavrentyev retired from Judo in 2016 to pursue MMA. He traveled to the United States to Albuquerque, New Mexico to train at Jackson-Wink MMA. He trained with the team for two years before making his MMA debut.

MMA Debut

On March 16th, 2017 Lavrentyev made his debut. It was in Chelyabinsk, Russia for Fight Show Схватка 4. His opponent Ali Rayimzhonov was making his pro debut as well. Quickly in the fight, Lavrentyev took Rayimzhonov down right into mount. Not even twenty seconds in the ref for some reason stood them up. He did get another takedown but Rayimzhonov got back up. When they separated Rayimzhonov landed a spinning back fist knocking out Lavrentyev

First Career Win

After getting his highly anticipated debut spoiled he returned to the cage just a month later. This time against Omatilo Mominov who was 1-3 at the time Lavrentyev was able to impose his will. The Russian eventually got the stoppage in early round two.

First Real Test

Sitting at 2-1 Lavrentyev was set to take on the biggest test of his career. Grachik Engibaryan was his next opponent. Engibaryan was a veteran of seventeen fights and held a 13-4 record. Lavrentyev dominated Engibaryan taking him down and landing a barrage of ground and pound. All the damage accumulated and the fight was stopped by the doctor in between rounds.

Back-to-back Big Wins

2018 started off as a big year for Lavrentyev. He beat a guy that was 7-2. It was his two following fights that proved his worth. Reginaldo Vieira who was a TUF veteran and fought in the UFC and Taylor Lapilus who was a UFC vet. Lavrentyev beat both men taking them to the scorecards and getting his hand raised. Wrestling, grappling, pressure, and pace are what won him those fights.

Usually beating a former UFC fighter is a ticket to the UFC itself. Lavrentyev beat two back-to-back. Vieira is one thing but Lapilus went 3-1 in the UFC. He’s also won his last three so that win looks really good for Lavrentyev. He was sitting at 6-1 training at Tiger Muay Thai and happened to be the main sparring partner of current UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan. Maybe a 6-1 record wasn’t too appealing and that’s why Lavrentyev wasn’t signed.

Losing All Momentum

After the two biggest wins of his career, he fought top prospect Victor Henry. In what was a fun competitive fight Lavrentyev lost a close decision. He got takedowns but couldn’t maintain top position. In the striking exchanges he did well but came up short most of the time. The fight was ruled in favor of Henry but can be seen as a valiant effort from Lavrentyev.

Back to his winning ways

Nearly a year from his loss to Henry, Lavrentyev went 3-0 in his subsequent fights. From a corner stoppage to a tapping from strikes to a refusal to fight, Lavrentyev broke those three opponents. All three had a combined record of 57-20. Although he displayed good shot selection on the feet, it was the takedowns and damage on top that had him getting his hand raised. Smashing elbows off of wrist control also did the trick for Lavrentyev.

Rematch Revenge

Nearly two years after their original fight, the ermatch between Lavrentyev and Victor Henry arrived. In what was another competitive fight, it was evident Lavrentyev had the win. Lavrentyev’s striking looked improved and he had a good amount of top control. There was some key ground and pound landed that Lavrentyev pulled away with. Henry was recently signed to the UFC, off just a single win following the Lavrentyev fight.

At this point, Lavrentyev was riding with a lot of hype behind him. A resume of a 10-2 record, beating two former UFC fighters, and just beating Henry in a rematch to win a title. This was around the time Lavrentyev was getting looks from the UFC. At one point he was offered short notice fights against Jack Shore and Nathaniel Wood. Ultimately they never accepted the fight and a straight-out contract never came out of it.

Title Defense

In his most recent fight, Denis Lavrentyev defended his Parus FC bantamweight title this past November. The guy standing across from him was Canadian Jesse Arnett. Arnett is a veteran who at many points in his career was close to a UFC call-up. In the fight, both guys were doing a fine job, striking mainly. Arnett was maybe landing the better strikes. It didn’t last long though. Lavrentyev landed a spinning elbow folding Arnett. After a barrage of nasty ground and pound and putting Arnett in a pool of blood, the ref eventually stepped in. It was a fight that could’ve been stopped a lot sooner.

Right now Lavrentyev is 33-years-old so the time to sign him is now. His ties with Petr Yan should have the UFC jumping all over him now. He’s the main training partner of Yan who he’s cornered him many times in the UFC. His judo background should also look appealing and of course his resume in MMA.

Lavrentyev beating Victor Henry, Taylor Lapilus, and Jesse Arnett are legit wins. You don’t see that level of the competition nowadays with the newcomers coming into the UFC. He should’ve been signed any time during the last three years. Even with the pandemic, he’s managed to stay active and hasn’t taken a step back in the competition. Since fighting an opponent with a 3-3 record in 2017, his next twelve opponents have had winning records. In fact, his combined opponent’s record was 158-50 at the time they fought.

When it comes to his skill set, Lavrentyev has ever-improving striking. He’s not someone that’s going to go out there and put on a boxing clinic, but rather put on pressure and pick his shots. His judo plays a big factor in his success. His MMA wrestling is fine, but getting into the clinch and creating trips/sweeps he does so well. Lavrentyev at an even higher level can make a lot of impact in top position. Wrist control and smashing through elbows he does a perfect job at. Lavrentyev would bring a lot to the UFC’s stacked bantamweight division. Call him, Dana.