This time on Fighter Retrospective, a look back at a submission-crazy Russian moon boot aficionado, Volk Han.
What's this guy's deal?
Volk Han, known to his mom as Magomedkhan Amanulayevich Gamzatkhanov (Because being born "Wolf Khan" is pretty much too awesome to fathom), is a Russian sambo practitioner, shoot wrestler and mixed martial artist that primarily plied his craft in the RINGS organization. While with Fighting Network Rings, Han teamed with noted potato-man Fedor Emeliananeko and other ovoid guys of varying hirsuteness to form Team Russia to do battle against the rest of the world.
While in RINGS, Han won the Mega Battle Tournament (It's a major award!) twice, and made the semi-finals twice more in a four-year span. Unfortunately, that was in the hazy years where RINGS was probably more pro wrestling than mixed martial arts, but as we all know, nobody in Japanese pro wrestling is aware that anything is supposed to be fake (And thus, everyone just beats each other into various stages of near-death), so I still hold it to be a significant accomplishment.
What the hey? I thought this was a (bad) MMA blog, and this guy's main accomplishments were in PRO WRESTLING?!
Han did compete in MMA when RINGS transitioned over, but he was already in his late 30s at the time, so he didn't have the kind of smash success that a time-displaced 20 year old Volk Han probably would have had. He still had a fairly respectable record, including two wins over Japanese legend Kiyoshi Tamura (A one-time Mega Battle Tournament winner himself).
Han essentially retired in 2001, at the age of 40, but his official final match came more than a decade later, against fellow submission grappling ace, Masakatsu Funaki (I am totally going to write up a retrospective on him, hopefully within the decade). As befitting the nature of the two men involved, and the fact that it was probably a little worked (My face is going to be both red and covered with egg when it turns out that the entirety of MMA has been worked from jump street), the contest ended in a draw.
That being said, there's still some pretty good showcases of Han's grappling skills what is probably entirely legitimate competition. For example, his win over freestyle wrestling champion (NCAA Division II does too count!), Branden Lee Hinkle, as seen above.
Despite me mentally questioning the veracity of every scrap of video footage of Han online, he's still undoubtedly a very good grappler, and that's enough for me to praise him. Additionally, he helped break open sambo* to mixed martial arts, and we all reap the benefits of that with noted heroes of this blog, Rustam Khabliov, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Frodo Khasbulaev, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, and Alexander Shlemenko.
* - Sambo, as translated from the original Cyrillic, means "Come, friend, let us practice our judo. But, wait, what is this? The wolves have eaten the pantaloons of our judo pajamas! Fret not, we must grapple anyway".