Saturday, April 6th, Russian bantamweight prospect Anna Emelyanenko will be in action in her home country, where she will be looking to keep her undefeated record against fellow 3-0 fighter Ksenia Stepanova. She will be looking to score yet another win, as Emelyanenko looks to inch closer to potentially netting a UFC contract. Emelyanenko represents a little known camp out of Russia. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect in this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Wrestling: Emelyanenko’s background comes in the form of combat sambo and wrestling, so obviously it’s her biggest strength. She likes to close the distance and grab a hold of her opponents. She has great takedown technique and timing, as well as some snazzy throws in which she’s able to put her opponent on her back. When she gets her opponent to the mat, she has very strong top pressure and positional advancement. It’s hard to play defense on her. She’s active on top, too. She has solid ground-and-pound abilities, which helps her open up her opponent to submissions and stronger positions. Opponents need to avoid getting slammed to the mat by this Russian grappler.
Pressure/Aggression: Emelyanenko’s wrestling is suffocating, but so is her overall pressure and aggression. On the feet, she’s constantly moving forward and making her opponent uncomfortable. She doesn’t usually take a step back, as she likes to use said pressure to score takedowns. With her pressure and aggression, she’s able tire out opponents mentally and physically. That constant in-your-face pressure makes Emelyanenko even more dangerous.
Inexperience: Even at the age of 27 and with a lot of combat background, Emelyanenko has just three pro fights in her career. That is definitely something that needs to be addressed. That being said, she has faced solid competition in all three of those fights. She’s submitted Viktoriya Shalimova (now 4-4), knocked out Aleksandra Ikonnikova (now 2-1) and decisioned Ekaterina Makarova (4-2) in her three bouts. So, even though Emelyanenko needs more experience, at least she hasn’t been fighting nobodies.
Boxing: While Emelyanenko is certainly not incompetent on the feet, as she does have strong kicks (especially low kicks), she has to work on her boxing. Her punching power is lacking on the feet, which could be a beneficial weapon in unison with her wrestling Also, she needs to keep her hands higher when using her outright aggression. She doesn’t want to get caught coming in aggressively, as it could rock her and lead to a potential stoppage.
Top-15 UFC Bantamweight: It’s still very early in Emelyanenko’s run to tell her absolute ceiling, but she’s definitely got the skills and ability to eventually make it to the big show if her trajectory continues. Her wrestling is a huge attribute, as women with a wrestling base in MMA generally have a huge advantage, since many women tend not to go into that sport. Obviously, with that in mind, I can definitely see Emenyanenko being a top-15 UFC fighter were she to sign with the company. On her plate right now is another undefeated top prospect in Ksenia Stepanova, which will be no easy fight. If she bests her, she has a fight two weeks later. Moving to 5-0, especially with a Stepanova win on her resume, would definitely be enough for the UFC to take notice and eventually put her on the roster.