The Featherweight division of BRAVE Combat Federation has left an indelible mark on its history.
While the Lightweight category is often referred to as the "glamour division" worldwide, the 145-pound stable of BRAVE CF stands out as the division that has created memorable moments within the esteemed MMA promotion. Not only has the BRAVE CF Featherweight division been home to some of the world's finest athletes, but it also became the inaugural weight class to crown a BRAVE CF champion. In early 2017, Algeria's Elias Boudegzdame emerged victorious over Mexico's Masio Fullen at BRAVE CF 4, solidifying his status as the undisputed BRAVE CF Featherweight king.
This month, after 67 events and six years, two BRAVE CF stars will strive to join Boudegzdame and the subsequent champions by vying for a chance to claim the coveted Featherweight throne.
On June 23, at BRAVE CF 71, in the first instalment of this year's Kombat Kingdom series, Ukraine's Omar Solomanov and Kazakhstan's Ilyar Askhanov will take centre stage in Riffa, Bahrain. This momentous occasion marks the first-ever BRAVE CF main event for both Solomanov and Askhanov. The triumphant contender will progress to face the winner between the incumbent Featherweight champion, Russia's Roman Bogatov, and Kyrgyzstan's Nemat Abdrashitov, who are scheduled to face off four days later at BRAVE CF 72.
In a clash between "technique vs strength," Solomanov, hailing from Ukraine, will put his precise striking and adept submission skills to the test against the raw power and wrestling prowess of Askhanov, the Kazakh phenom. Over the past seven years, Solomanov has dominated his opponents, boasting a ten-fight win streak and a total of ten career finishes. He embodies the epitome of a well-rounded fighter, as demonstrated in his last two fights.
In his promotional debut at BRAVE CF 50, Solomanov effectively neutralized the grappling expertise of Moldova's Valeriu Mircea with his defensive wrestling and lightning-fast stand-up skills. At BRAVE CF 54, he showcased his grappling mastery by skillfully countering the dangerous striking of Brazil's Rafael Hudson. Now, Solomanov faces his most formidable challenge yet, as he squares off against the aggressively powerful Askhanov, known for overpowering his opponents with his ferocious wrestling and submission game.
Askhanov, a physical specimen, demonstrated his explosive double-leg takedown in his last two BRAVE CF bouts, thoroughly dominating Uzbekistan's Xusanboy Atabayev and Kyrgyzstan's Rasul Tezekbaev, respectively.
Solomanov's advantage may lie in his striking abilities, with eight of his victories secured by knockout. He can employ his quick hands and agile footwork to maintain distance, outstriking his opponent while keeping his crafty takedown defence intact.
The question remains: Can Solomanov thwart Askhanov's takedown attempts and become the first fighter to finish the resilient Kazakh? Askhanov's aptitude for closing the distance and applying relentless pressure with his dominant wrestling game has served him well, culminating in an unbeaten 2022 with two stoppages and a unanimous decision victory.
As the former Lightweight champion of Kazakhstan, Askhanov possesses an impressive 75 per cent finish ratio, comprising three knockouts and an astonishing six submissions. He now aspires to surpass his compatriots Azat Maksum and Asu Almabaev by becoming the first-ever BRAVE CF champion from Kazakhstan.