10 Light Heavyweight Prospects the UFC Should Sign in 2023


Yuri “The Russian Polar Bear” Panferov

26 | 6’0″ | Moscow, Russia/North Haven, Connecticut, US | 4-0 | 4 Finishes | 1 KO/TKO, 3 Submissions | Combined Opponents’ Record: 8-13 | Best Win – Brian Imes (8-13)

Panferov was born in Russia but has lived in the US and fought his entire pro and amateur career in the States. As an amateur Panferov went 5-0 and won three regional titles. Since fighting as a pro he’s been exclusively on UFC Fight Pass on CES. As a pro, Panferov hasn’t fought anyone with a winning record so a win over a credible opponent would be nice. He’s an IBJJF Champ, Super Heavyweight New England Golden Gloves Champ, and an amateur Muay Thai Champ.

His striking is wild but he does throw hard and throws to close the distance. His wrestling has been good so far and his ground game has won him all his fights. Panferov is force on top with heavy positioning. Ground and pound is a big factor and that’s opened up the opportunity for submissions.

“I’ve been training my whole career to get to the next level, and now is the time. Russia is a huge market for the UFC so having a fighter like myself born and raised there, but now lives here, and speaks both languages is extremely marketable,” the light heavyweight told Cageside Press. “Add in the fact that I’m a finisher, I think I’m exactly what they are looking for and would be a perfect addition to the light heavyweight division. My talent and record speak for itself. It’s not if, but when.”

“If I could say something to Dana White, The Russian Polar Bears gotta eat. Give us a chance and you will not regret it.”


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