Bellator 290: Diana Avsaragova Fan of Emelianenko, but Ignoring Talk of MMA Being “For Men”

Bellator flyweight Diana Avsaragova (5-0) makes the trip from Russia to Los Angeles for Bellator 290 next month, where she’ll face off with former title challenger Alejandra Lara.

Avsaragova’s corners are already stateside, leaving her to make the trip alone. That has always been the case for young fighter, who joined Bellator MMA in 2021 and has won her first three fights out of the gate.

“To be honest [the travel] is complicated because it’s a long flight every time,” she told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview, speaking via translator. “I always fly by myself mostly, I don’t know the language, English language, so it does complicate things.”

Thus far, the Russian flyweight has been left out of the promotion’s official rankings. A win over Lara, however, who previously faced Ilima-Lei Macfarlane for women’s flyweight gold, could very well change that.

“Yeah she has a big name, so hopefully it will get me to the top ten, the win over her,” Avsaragova stated. With Lara on a significant skid, the 24-year old agreed her opponent may come out more fired up than usual. “I think she’s going to be a little more aggressive, as you said, because she needs to be able to recover [from] her losing streak.”

Avsaragova’s return to action will take place on the very same card as the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, who is expected to retire following his heavyweight title bid against Ryan Bader in the Bellator 290 main event.

Fedor has essentially been fighting for Avsaragova’s entire life, given the flyweight is still just 24. And like many at home in Russia, she was a fan of “The Last Emperor” growing up. “Yeah of course,” she told us. “When I was a child, I was a big fan of him, as everybody in Russia [was].”

Emelianenko infamously claimed MMA “is for men” back in 2015, while Ronda Rousey was one of the biggest stars in the sport. That sort of talk hasn’t dissuaded Diana Avsaragova from doing what she loves.

“To be honest, I’m just ignoring all that. I never pay attention to anything like that, what people say,” she stated. “I just like what I do, and I’ll keep doing it.”

Moving forward, the Russian hopes she can stay busy. “I really hope to fight at least three times a year if everything goes well, especially when it comes to my health, my injuries.” She doesn’t have a prediction for the Lara fight, she added, but is ready to go the distance.

“I don’t really do predictions. I prepare, I’m always ready for a three round fight. You’ll see what happens.”

Watch our full interview with women’s flyweight Diana Avsaragova above. She’s set to face Alejandra Lara at Bellator 290 at the Kia Forum on Saturday, February 4, 2023.