Albert Tumenov may be a relative newcomer to the UFC fold, but that has not hindered his ambition to become one of the top fighters in the welterweight division.
Born and raised in Kabardino Balkaria, a republic located deep in the North Caucasus Mountains, Tumenov was naturally directed towards the martial arts from a young age. However, unlike most who would specialize in more traditional bases such as wrestling, judo or sambo, Tumenov took up karate and became a hand-to-hand combat champion in Russia before switching over to MMA.
The difference is noticeable in his game, which was honed at K Dojo Warrior Tribe in New Jersey, and features a greater volume of strikes and far more knockout finishes than many of his fellow Caucasus and Russian fighters. Ten of his fourteen wins have come by knockout, including his two most recent UFC fights – a small taste of the karateka’s abilities.
In Kabardino Balkaria, which Tumenov refers to as the “most beautiful place on earth,” MMA is relatively new, yet the surge of raw talent and potential is remarkable to behold. Tournaments in other combat sports and martial arts such as Karate were commonplace, and hence, helped marinate an entire new generation of potential mixed martial arts fighters, which is what is currently in the process of happening.
Already aware of this, Tumenov believes it is only a matter of time before Caucasus fighters become a force in high-level MMA.
“Combat sports have always been very popular in our area, and a lot of our athletes compete in the tournaments on international level and show very good results in combat sports. MMA is a still new sport in our country, but it’s growing very fast. I hope to see very soon a lot of guys coming from our state, competing internationally at the highest levels of MMA.”
With plenty of local promotions to choose from, Tumenov worked his way across the Russian regional scene, fighting in promotions like ProFC, Tech-Krep, and Fight Nights before settling in New Jersey. After compiling a string of six consecutive knockouts, Tumenov finally got the attention of the UFC matchmakers and was eventually signed to a contract with the promotion.
Many expected him to impress immediately.
However, things did not go as expected for Tumenov. His debut was scheduled to take place in Barueri – the first time he ever fought outside of Russia.
“I had to acclimate twice in 20 days and travel to two different countries.”
That was not all. Tumenov fell ill less than two weeks prior to that fight, and was almost forced to withdraw from the contest.
“The doctor almost didn’t clear me,” he explained. “Ten days prior to my fight, I could not train at all, and I lost five pounds of muscle mass during that period.”
And still, with the odds against him from the start, Tumenov lasted the entire duration of the fight and lost a narrow split decision to Ildemar Alcântara. While it was his first setback in nearly three years, it only strengthened his resolve.
“That defeat made me a lot stronger than I was. Most importantly, I became a much more professional fighter.”
Less than three months later, Tumenov avenged his debut loss with a vicious knockout win against Anthony Lapsley. Five months after that, he picked up his second consecutive KO win in the UFC. This time, the fight only lasted 63 seconds.
The UFC appears to have taken notice of Tumenov’s flair for violence, as he was quickly moved from the Fight Pass curtain jerker, where he started his UFC tenure, to the featured fight on the preliminary portion of a UFC on FOX fight card. Now with the opportunity to shine, Albert is looking forward to showcasing his growing skillset against a durable opponent in Nico Musoke
“I’m very motivated to prove myself and show everyone how good I am.”
Tumenov considers Musoke a “strong” and “well-rounded fighter,” and has been impressed with the tape he has watched on him over the past few months. Yet the endless hours of study have also made him profoundly aware of his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I’m very well prepared for this fight. I feel that I know what he would do in any cage situation.”
With the fight scheduled to take place in Stockholm, Tumenov will not have to worry about adjusting to a different time zone or a dramatic shift in climate. This will only benefit him come fight night.
“I am very happy that I’m going to fight in Sweden. I will not have to undergo acclimatization – I will not have to fly 10 hours.”
Not one to make predictions ahead of fights, Tumenov will perform his best on Saturday and hope the tides remain in his favour. Afterwards, he will look to begin his ascension up the welterweight ranks.
“My goal is by the end of this year is to prove that I belong in the top 10, and to continue, prove that I am one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC, and get closer to the title.”
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