Why Bellator champ Yaroslav Amosov decided to return as Russia-Ukraine war wages on

Yaroslav Amosov isn’t relieved he’s back competing, because that would mean he finds comfort in his current situation.

The reigning Bellator welterweight champion Amosov (26-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) detected little solace as he laced up his gloves and wrestling shoes, back in Coconut Creek, Fla. for his first fight camp since his homeland went to war.

Amosov, now 29, walked away from life as an active fighter in February 2022, to serve in the Ukrainian military – a pause that lasted until November when Bellator announced his return.

“Once central Ukraine got liberated, and the city I’m from, once that area became free of Russians, I started to kind of feel like I was getting a lot of pressure from my family and from my friends and loved ones,” Amosov recently told MMA Junkie through an interpreter. “They said, ‘Listen, our immediate area is liberated. It’s free. It’s time for you to return to fighting and use your notoriety and your platform to be the voice of what’s going on here, as opposed to being physically boots on the ground. It wasn’t an easy decision. There was a lot of pressure from my family, from my friends. But eventually, I decided that’s what I was going to do.”

In May, Amosov painted a grim picture as he spoke to MMA Junkie and drove through Ukraine. Now nearing the one-year anniversary of the war’s start, things are a step further – but conditions not satisfactory enough for Amosov to use the word “better.”

“The war is still going on,” Amosov said. “People are still dying. But in central Ukraine, there isn’t any military action. But there’s still danger. Russia has ben launching rockets all over Ukraine. At any given time, they can land anywhere. There is always danger. There are a lot of issues with electricity and heat all over Ukraine. So things are marginally better in certain parts, but I’m really far from saying things are ‘better.'”


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It might not even be reasonable to assume things will ever return to normal in his home country, as Amosov forecasted. The impact of the devastation, death toll, and destruction will likely stick with him and his loved ones forever, he indicated.

“This will leave an enormous scar on our nation,” Amosov said. “This will always be remembered. This will not be something that will be easily forgotten. It’ll carry forever. There’s going to be an impact. Of course, people are optimistic the thing will end at some point, but nobody knows when. This seems it’ll be going on for a while.”

The wound will remain open for now for Ukraine’s civilians, but Amosov hopes to at least ease that pain a bit Saturday when he steps in the cage for a title unification bout vs. Logan Storley (14-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) at Bellator 291 in Dublin. All the while, he’ll represent his country.

“It’s very motivating, now, more than ever for the people and my fans and what it means for them,” Amosov said. “That would even help me in training. There were even times in our training when I’m feeling very down and then I realize some of my friends right now are sitting in trenches, getting shot at, and rockets are flying everywhere. Compared to them, I have it easy. It helped me and motivated me through training.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 291.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie