Aleksei Ulianov will face another obstacle on his path to the unified RCC Lightweight crown.
The Fair Fight interim belt holder is scheduled to make his first title defense against the one-time ONE Muay Thai Featherweight championship challenger Jamal Yusupov at RCC Fair Fight 26 on February 3. Both fighters have spent the past year hoping they'd get the chance to face the Fair Fight Lightweight champion Mamuka Usubyan - one to build on his past success against him and the other to avenge his defeat.
Ulianov challenged Usubyan in his debut with the promotion, but was on the wrong end of a controversial split decision. The GLORY veteran bounced back with four straight victories, including a five-round unanimous decision triumph over Zhora Akopyan to capture the interim title. Yusupov, on the other hand, overcame Usubyan in a non-title bout in his debut with Fair Fight and followed this up with a unanimous decision win against fellow veteran Saifullah Khambakadov three months later.
Where has the champion been in the meantime? Following the two above mentioned fights with Ulianov and Yusupov, Usubyan picked up a pair of victories against Patrik Záděra and Dzhabar Askerov. Unfortunately for the Yazidi kingpin, he also picked up a pair of injuries in that time as well: a broken fibula in training before facing Yusupov and a broken arm against Záděra. The question of how much these injuries have affected him will be answered later in the year, when either Ulianov or Yusupov fight him again.