Since joining the GLORY ranks, the rise of Alim ‘The Professor’ Nabiyev (49-6, 21 KO’s) has been remarkable: three fights, three wins, two of those over former champions, one of them formerly the division’s most dominant force.
When Nabiyev signed with GLORY he was known to kickboxing’s cognoscenti as a prospect but was not widely known to fans outside of the Russian-speaking world.
Nabiyev’s roots are in Azerbaijan but he spent much of his early life in Ukraine before moving to Russia, which is why he usually sports the flags of all three countries on his shorts.
His first forays into martial arts training were as a teenager in Ukraine. He merely wanted to learn how to defend himself, but soon discovered he had a natural gift.
Nabiyev started fighting under professional rules at the age of 16. He fought largely in Moscow, distinguishing himself in Russia’s ‘W5’ kickboxing organization.
A foray into the short-lived but highly publicized Legend fighting event in Russia earned him more attention and opened up avenues for him to compete in China and Europe.
By the end of 2016 his record included wins over Yohan Lidon, Chad Sugden and Armen Petrosyan, which got him onto the GLORY radar.
Since then the rest is history: a win over Jimmy Vienot (61-15, 33 KO’s) in his debut was followed by dominating victory over former champion Nieky Holzken (90-14, 46 KO’s), the longest holder of the welterweight title to date, and then a decisive victory over former champion Cedric Doumbé (69-6-1, 40 KO’s) .
Those latter two wins announced Nabiyev as a new contender in the welterweight division and placed him firmly and fully into the title shot conversation.
Looking back on his career, Nabiyev’s trajectory has been an almost unbroken ascent, with losses only to the likes of Dzhabar Askerov and Chingiz Allazov, both of whom are GLORY veterans and world-class in their own right.
Now he finds himself just days away from a welterweight title showdown with Harut Grigorian, the latest owner of a belt which has changed hands more than any other GLORY title.
At 6’1 (1.93m) Nabiyev is the tallest fighter in the division. His height and range lend themselves perfectly to his style.
Nabiyev likes to harass his opponents with long straight shots while staying out of harm’s way. When they do come forward, he hammers them with effective knees that make them think twice about doing so.
Grigorian is almost his diametric opposite: short and stocky, Grigorian is a slab of muscle and takes the sledgehammer approach to his opponents. He likes to press forward and throw non-stop bombs until the opponent is broken, mentally or physically.
Styles makes fights and these two could not be more different in their approach. But which of them can impose their will on the other?
Does Grigorian retain the belt or does Nabiyev’s seemingly unstoppable rise continue, and place him on the very summit of the sport? We will find out this Saturday, June 2 at GLORY 54 BIRMINGHAM