Bellator MMA welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov has joined the effort to defend his native Ukraine from invading Russian forces.
Amosov joins other notable combat sports figures including heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk, and brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, in defending the eastern European nation that has been under attack for days.
Russian forces launched a near-universally condemned, unprovoked attack on Ukraine this past Thursday, February 17. The move came after months of escalating tensions, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming that the potential of Ukraine joining NATO was a threat to Russian national security. He would later float the excuse of supporting two breakaway republics in Ukraine as a pretext for invasion.
Ukrainian citizens have taken up arms against the invading Russian army, with the world at large implementing heavy financial sanctions against Russia. Amosov, who was expected to defend his welterweight title in May against Michael “Venom” Page, is one of many who have voluntarily joined the fight.
Several nations have stepped up to provide military hardware to Ukraine to support the nation’s defense. Russian air traffic was also banned from European and Canadian air space on Sunday, while Russia’s Putin escalated tensions by putting his “nuclear deterrence forces” on high alert.
“Probably, many will think that I ran away, I’m hiding or something like that, but this is not so,” Yaroslav Amosov explained in a video statement on his verified Instagram account (translation via Ringside24). “I took my family to the safe zone. Now I have returned and will defend this country as best I can, with what I can.”
“I love this country, our own. Russia came to our house and started a war here, many people are dying — innocents, women and children. We have to defend this country, and we succeed, friends. And we will succeed, because the truth is behind us.”
Amosov, who sports a perfect 26-0 record in professional mixed martial arts, captured the Bellator welterweight title from Douglas Lima at Bellator 260 last year. The 28-year old also holds multiple medals in Jiu-Jitsu and Combat Sambo.
The mixed martial artist also addressed his Russian followers — many of whom can only view the war through the lens of state-controlled media in Putin’s Russia.
“I would like to address those who subscribed to me from Russia. What is shown to you on TV, you may not watch – this is not true,” he stated. “If I were you, I wouldn’t even watch your news. We are in a real war. I cannot understand those people who do not believe that Russian troops entered Ukraine. I see it with my own eyes, I hear it. Terrible things are happening here. We can do this.”