Landing a major promotional deal after fighting a different gendered person who weighed over four times more than her? It was all part of a bigger plan, according to Bellator flyweight Darina Mazdyuk.
When video surfaced online of 135-pound Mazdyuk (3-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) scrapping with a 529-pound man – and beating him – the bout immediately entered MMA infamy. As viral as viral gets, fans from around the world watched in awe, disgust, or even laughter.
“It was actually me who initiated it,” Mazdyuk told MMA Junkie through an interpreter at a virtual Bellator 269 news conference Tuesday. “I got the idea of fighting someone huge and with that, there’s a promotional value not just for Russia, but for the U.S. and other countries. It turns out, this way I was able to draw attention to (myself). This way, I scored a Bellator contract.”
Score a Bellator contract, she did. After a wave of attention, Mazdyuk was quickly offered a multifight deal from one of the world’s top MMA organizations. While she doubts a duplicated effort will have an equal effect, Mazdyuk thinks there’s a spot in combat sports for outside-the-box, attention-grabbing contests.
“That actually was kind of the goal, to reach a lot of people and actually show the crowd that such fights can take place and how exciting they would be,” Mazdyuk said. “Such sports are particularly exciting and something to look at aside from your normal, classical, traditional point of view on fighting. That was the goal for me.”
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Though the experience was unique and perhaps one she won’t participate in again, Mazdyuk walked away a better, more technical fighter. Although she’ll fight a more “traditional” opponent Saturday in fellow women’s flyweight Katarzyna Sadura at Bellator 269, Mazdyuk expects fans to walk away with a similar sense of awe.
“I believe that, after that fight, having new equipment, having new technique, and having just a new system of training, I believe that with all those skills I’ve acquired, I can put up even more of a ‘sticking out’ kind of a fight compared to the previous one,” Mazdyuk said. “Even the girl who weighs 50 kilograms can make a show.”
Bellator 269 takes place Saturday at VTB Arena in Moscow. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.