Bellator 291: Ukraine’s Yaroslav Amosov outclasses Logan Storley to retain welterweight title

Yaroslav Amosov made a winning return to MMA after beating Logan Storley via unanimous decision at Bellator 291 in Dublin.

The welterweight champion retained his title in his first bout since fighting in the Ukrainian army against Russia’s invasion.

Amosov, 28, was relentless and precise in a near-flawless performance.

All three judges saw it 50-45 for Amosov, who dedicated his win to Ukraine.

Amosov was visibly emotional as he made his post-fight speech having revealed before the fight he only returned to fighting to promote peace in Ukraine.

“Ukrainian people I love you,” Amosov said. “I want to say thank you my Ukrainian army for defence, thank you for helping my country. Please don’t forget what’s happening [in Ukraine].”

Amosov moved to 27-0 as a professional fighter, extending the longest active unbeaten streak in MMA and staking a firm claim for the world’s best welterweight.

A performance to remember

Amosov returned to the Bellator cage on the weekend of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Twelve months ago he scrambled to get his family safely across the border before driving 36 hours back to his hometown of Irpin to defend it.

He pulled out of his scheduled first title defence last May to stay in Ukraine – offering Storley to chance to become interim champion in his absence – but was convinced by family and friends since then to promote peace in Ukraine by resuming his fighting career.

Amosov has used the spotlight admirably to tell his and Ukraine’s story and represented his country throughout the week in Dublin, no more so than his near-perfect performance against 30-year-old Storley.

He entered the cage wearing a T-shirt bearing the colours of the Ukrainian flag and displaying the words “colors of freedom” – just as Oleksandr Usyk did when he fought Anthony Joshua last August.

Despite both men being accomplished grapplers, the first round was conducted entirely on the feet.

Amosov was sharp and concise in his shots, landing a hard left on Storley in an exchange before forcing the American back with another flurry moments later.

An ambitious kick from Amosov missed Storley, who returned to his corner at the end of the first round with a cut below his right eye.

Amosov went to his kicking game in the second and the pressure and variety from the undefeated champion made Storley’s life difficult as he tried to get close to the Ukrainian.

Mixing short punches with head kicks, Amosov stunned Storley again and the swelling under the interim champion’s eye gradually became worse.

Storley struggled to get hold of Amosov in the third, who would reply with sharp counters whenever his opponent closed the distance.

The Ukrainian hurt Storley again with a left hook followed by a flurry of quick punches and slammed him against the cage before taking him down.

Storley was able to get back to his feet and narrowly avoided another head-kick from Amosov as they pulled away from each other.

The fourth round saw Storley deliver a nice backwards elbow on Amosov in the clinch before defending a head kick despite his back being turned.

Storley continued to walk forward into the Amosov storm despite blood pouring from his right eye, but the champion continued to dominate

He hurt Storley with two lefts in quick succession and cruised into the final round arguably four rounds to the good.

Amosov searched for the finish in the final round, throwing everything he had at his rival but Storley was able to stand firm.

With scatterings of Ukrainians in the crowd, Amosov’s name rang out in his native tongue as the fight drew to a close.