Taktarov in 2010
|Born||Oleg Nikolaevich Taktarov
August 26, 1967
Arzamas-16, Russian SFSR, USSR
|Other names||The Russian Bear|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||95 kg (209 lb; 14 st 13 lb)|
|Rank||Master of Sport & 3rd Dan black belt in Judo
Master of Sport in Sambo
|Years active||1993 - 1998, 2001, 2007 - 2008 (MMA)|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Oleg Nikolaevich Taktarov (Russian: Оле́г Никола́евич Такта́ров; born August 26, 1967) is a retired Russian mixed martial artist and actor. He is a practitioner of Sambo and Judo and has competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships. Taktarov was the UFC 6 tournament champion and holds notable wins over Marco Ruas, David "Tank" Abbott, Mark Kerr, and Anthony Macias. Taktarov is known for being exceptionally calm during fights and for using a variety of rarely seen, acrobatic Sambo take-downs. All of Taktarov's losses were by knockout or decision; he was never submitted in an MMA fight.
Taktarov was born in the closed city Arzamas-16 (today known as Sarov), USSR, before his family moved to Gorky, an industrial centre of Russia. Oleg’s father, a construction worker, wanted his son to become involved in sport, and so took him to a gymnasium at the nearby city of Sarov, with the intention of enrolling Oleg in ice hockey or weightlifting. But the twelve-year-old Taktarov had other ideas after observing athletes practicing judo. At first it appeared his father would have his way because the Sarov judo division had a policy of not accepting people from outside their city, but the instructor was impressed by the bright and well-mannered Oleg, and took him under his wing. "I liked judo and stuck with it. Then I found that there were similarities between judo and sambo (Russian unarmed self-defense system), and as Sarov was the only Sambo gymnasium specializing in leg locks, I decided to compete in both styles," says Taktarov.
Surprisingly, the intelligent and soft-spoken Oleg intended becoming a scientist. He hadn’t planned to make a career of grappling. But in the former Soviet Union it was mandatory for all male youths to serve a minimum of two years in the military. Prior to entering the army, Taktarov competed against two men - one, his training partner - for a place in the military’s sporting division. During the last bout, his adversary applied an ankle lock to Oleg. "He had a good lock on my ankle, and I heard the ligaments pop, but I couldn’t submit because the competition was too important to me. There were two other guys in my weight category and only one position in the army’s sport division, so I had to win. I threw him and he fell on his head and couldn’t continue," says Taktarov. Oleg went on to serve his time as a self-defense instructor, which included training an elite sector of the KGB in unarmed combat and counter-intelligence for three years. During this period Oleg suffered severe stomach pains and reported to his superior officer. The officer ignored Oleg’s plea for medical attention and ordered him back on duty. "He was the kind of guy who shouldn’t have been there," understates a cool Taktarov. The young soldier decided to go AWOL and travelled to a nearby hospital where a doctor successfully removed Oleg’s appendix, informing his patient that he would have died if he’d waited another fifteen minutes.
After completing his national service, Oleg traveled with another martial artist to the Republic of Latvia for a no-rules tournament. "My friend and I were at a car yard and he was going to buy a car. The Latvian special police didn’t like us because we were speaking Russian, and decided to throw us in gaol. But some of the organizers were looking for us, and luckily they found us, so we were released fifteen minutes before the competition started, which meant we had no time to warm up." Fortunately this did not stop Taktarov from becoming the tournament champion. Four times Oleg won the European and Asian jiu-jitsu Championships, and twice won the World Sambo Championships.
"At the age of twenty-six I was undefeated and had won everything I could at the time. So I traveled to the United States with the intention of becoming an actor, but I found that it wasn’t easy to get started in the movies, so I decided to fight because I had to think about an income and improving my English." Oleg also commenced working in theaters to improve his acting skills.
Mixed martial arts career
Ultimate Fighting Championship
On November 12, 1993, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) were held in Denver, Colorado, where fighters from all martial arts codes were invited to compete for a purse of US$50,000, in a no-holds-barred elimination tournament billed as being, "not for the faint-hearted". The show-down was held inside the eight-sided ring, known as The Octagon, that measures 32 feet across, and is surrounded by a five-foot-high chain fence.
In April, 1995, Oleg entered UFC 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina, billed as "The Russian Bear". "It (the title) sounds alright to me now, but before.....I was called this by the manager I had then, who was from Texas. He thought that Texas was the capital of the world," laughs Oleg. "He didn’t know any other places existed. He just knew that Russia had bears and vodka, and he couldn’t call me ‘The Russian Vodka’." When Oleg entered UFC 5 he was regarded by the organizers as "The X-Factor". His friend and Lion's Den fighter, Guy Mezger, had spoken highly of Taktarov, but the Russian was an unknown quantity. Before the tournament, competitors were interviewed pulling macho faces and growling, whilst boasting how they were going to win the event and destroy their opponents. By contrast, Oleg coolly said he was from Gorky, Russia, and smiled an infectious smile at the cameras. Held in Charlotte, North Carolina, the competition claimed to have eight contenders representing eight different martial arts, but as Royce Gracie had previously stated, many of the UFC competitors were now abandoning their own arts to copy his grappling techniques. The fact that a fighter was listed as representing the art of Tae Kwon Do did not mean he would be using TKD striking techniques against his opponent.
In UFC 5, the program had Oleg Taktarov listed as representing the Russian discipline of Sambo. "At first I was kind of disappointed because in Russia they would have regarded me as a jiu-jitsu exponent because it was a new art I was practicing back there, whereas many people were already doing judo and sambo in Russia. Here in America, people categorized me as a sambo artist because it was unique and unusual, and that’s what they liked. But I don’t mind now," says Taktarov.
Between UFC 5 and UFC 6 (where he won the tournament, beating David "Tank" Abbott in the finals), Taktarov lived and trained with Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den fighting team. Taktarov started his American training with Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan.
Despite badly injuring his knee in training shortly before the event, Takatarov entered the UFC 5 tournament, winning his first fight but losing in the semi-finals to eventual champion Dan Severn by stoppage due to a cut. The fight was stopped by the referee because of profuse bleeding above Taktarov's eye due to a cut caused by knees from Severn while Oleg was seeking an armbar from the guard. Taktarov disputes this loss to this day, saying that he could have continued to fight and that he does not consider this cut stoppage to be an actual loss.
After losing at UFC 5, Taktarov went to live and train with his friend Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den training camp. Taktarov talked about his experience in an interview: "For a month Ken and I fought together. The guys who later became good fighters, like Frank Shamrock or Guy Mezger, were not any competition for me at the time. The only guy I trained with was Ken, and we had battles behind closed doors. Nobody was allowed to watch them."
Taktarov returned at UFC 6 where, in the semifinal bout, Anthony Macias was brought in to replace Patrick Smith due to injury. The fight ended in 12 seconds with Taktarov submitting Macias via front choke becoming the fastest submission in UFC history. Taktarov went on to defeat a much larger David "Tank" Abbott by rear naked choke after 17 grueling minutes to win the UFC 6 tournament. Taktarov displayed incredible heart and willpower during the fight and had to be taken to the hospital afterwards due to the high altitude of Casper, Wyoming.
Well respected by Bob & Ken Shamrock, Taktarov, being the reigning tournament champion, was set up to fight his friend and reigning UFC Champion Ken Shamrock in UFC 7 for the UFC Superfight Championship. Taktarov again displayed an incredible amount of heart in this fight, taking a lot of punishment but refusing to quit. The fight had a 30 minute time limit and went into three minutes of overtime, finishing as a draw at 33 minutes.
Taktarov then entered the UFC's Ultimate Ultimate 1995 tournament. Oleg advanced to the finals of the tournament, defeating UFC 5 finalist Dave Beneteau and highly regarded UFC 7 champion Marco Ruas in the process. Taktarov met Dan Severn in the finals in a rematch of their fight at UFC 5. After 30 minutes the judges awarded Dan Severn a decision victory based on points scored during the bout.
On November 21, 2003, at UFC 45, the UFC conducted a poll amongst the fans to determine the most popular fighters in the history of the UFC. The fans voted Oleg as one of the top 10 most popular fighters in the history of the UFC.
Taktarov fought in the first ever Pride 1 show on Oct 11, 1997 facing Canadian heavyweight and UFC veteran Gary Goodridge. Unfortunately for Oleg, he suffered a frightening knockout loss. After being knocked unconscious, the hulking 'Big Daddy' landed a scary right hook on the prone Taktarov. Oleg had to be carried out on a stretcher. He later fully recovered. In one of his recent interviews he attributed Goodridge's victory to the peak of the anabolic steroid cycle that Goodridge allegedly went through prior to the fight. Taktarov further asserted that Goodridge's following performances (i.e. a string of losses) clearly indicated the downtrend of the steroid cycle.
Perhaps the most famous non-UFC fight of his MMA career is when he faced Renzo Gracie in the MARS Reality Fighting event. The anticipated ground battle never took off and he lost by KO by an up kick as he was looking for a leg submission.
Oleg faced his rival Marco Ruas once again in Brazil in a super fight at the World Vale Tudo Championships. It was agreed that there would be no judges for this bout, and when time ran out, it was ruled a draw.
Oleg faced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Sean Alvarez in Pentagon Combat an event held in Brazil. Wearing boxing trunks, he displayed boxing skills by knocking out his opponent.
Return to mixed martial arts
Prior to making a successful comeback to the sport in 2007, Taktarov's last bout was in 2001. Taktarov announced in an online radio interview in November 2007 his plans to return to MMA with BodogFight. He won his debut match against John Marsh at 33 seconds into the 2nd round of the match by submission (kneebar). He then fought UFC 14 and UFC 15 heavyweight champion Mark Kerr, again winning by kneebar.
Taktarov is now retired from mixed martial arts.
After temporarily retiring from mixed martial arts, Taktarov focused on his acting career, and starred in the movies 15 Minutes, Bad Boys II, 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out, Air Force One, and the 2002 version of Rollerball. He also appeared in the first episode of season 3 of Alias entitled The Two and in the NCIS season 5 finale Judgement Day. He has also appeared in a few Russian productions, and was cast in a few releases from 2007, such as We Own the Night. Taktarov also released several instructional Sambo videos and has made an instructional video with Vladimir Vasiliev entitled Russian Mega Fighting. Taktarov more recently starred in Robert Rodriguez's franchise reboot, Predators, directed by Nimród Antal.
|1997||Absolute Force||Agent Borris Checkniov|
|1997||Air Force One||Prison Guard #2|
|2001||15 Minutes||Oleg Razgul|
|2001||My Friend's Love Affair||Boris|
|2003||Bad Boys II||Josef Kuninskavich|
|2003||44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out||Emil Matasareanu|
|2004||Sins of the Fathers (rus. Грехи отцов)||Jerome Thompson|
|2005||Call me Genee (rus. Зови меня Джинн)||Ufa|
|2005||Law of Corruption (rus. Мужской сезон. Бархатная революция)||Skala|
|2005||To Hunt an Elk (rus. Охота на изюбря)||Kamaz|
|2006||Shift (rus. Сдвиг)||Fetisov|
|2006||Miami Vice||Russian Security|
|2007||We Own the Night||Pavel Lubyarsky|
|2007||The Death and Life of Bobby Z||Oleg|
|2008||Righteous Kill||Yevgeny Mugalat|
|2011||Battlefield 3||Dmitri "Dima" Mayakovsky|
|2013||Officer Down||Oleg Emelyanenko|
Championships and accomplishments
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|24 matches||17 wins||5 losses|
|Win||17–5–2||Mark Kerr||Submission (kneebar)||YAMMA Pit Fighting||April 11, 2008||1||1:55||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||16–5–2||John Marsh||Submission (kneebar)||BodogFIGHT: USA vs. Russia||November 30, 2007||2||0:33||Moscow, Russia|
|Win||15–5–2||Aaron Salinas||Submission (armbar)||Total Kombat||May 13, 2001||1||1:24||McAllen, Texas, United States|
|Win||14–5–2||Moti Horenstein||Submission (kneebar)||National Freesparring||February 21, 1998||1||3:24||Almaty, Kazakhstan|
|Win||13–5–2||Mick Tierney||Submission (kneebar)||National Freesparring||February 21, 1998||1||3:58||Almaty, Kazakhstan|
|Loss||12–5–2||Gary Goodridge||KO (punch)||Pride 1||October 11, 1997||1||4:57||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||12–4–2||Sean Alvarez||KO (punches)||Pentagon Combat||September 27, 1997||1||0:52||Brazil|
|Win||11–4–2||Chuck Kim||Submission (guillotine choke)||World Fighting Federation||February 24, 1997||1||0:22||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Loss||10–4–2||Renzo Gracie||KO (upkick and punch)||Martial Arts Reality Superfighting||November 22, 1996||1||1:02||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Draw||10–3–2||Marco Ruas||Draw||World Vale Tudo Championship 2||November 10, 1996||1||31:12||Brazil|
|Win||10–3–1||Joe Charles||Submission (kneebar)||World Vale Tudo Championship 1||August 14, 1996||1||4:42||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||9–3–1||Ryushi Yanagisawa||Decision (lost points)||Pancrase - Truth 5||May 16, 1996||1||15:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||9–2–1||Dan Severn||Decision (unanimous)||Ultimate Ultimate 1995||December 16, 1995||1||30:00||Denver, Colorado, United States|
|Win||9–1–1||Marco Ruas||Decision (unanimous)||Ultimate Ultimate 1995||December 16, 1995||1||18:00||Denver, Colorado, United States|
|Win||8–1–1||Dave Beneteau||Submission (achilles hold)||Ultimate Ultimate 1995||December 16, 1995||1||1:15||Denver, Colorado, United States|
|Draw||7–1–1||Ken Shamrock||Draw||UFC 7||September 8, 1995||1||33:00||Buffalo, New York, United States||For UFC Superfight title|
|Win||7–1||Tank Abbott||Submission (rear naked choke)||UFC 6||July 14, 1995||1||17:47||Casper, Wyoming, United States||Won UFC 6 Tournament|
|Win||6–1||Anthony Macias||Submission (guillotine choke)||UFC 6||July 14, 1995||1||0:09||Casper, Wyoming, United States|
|Win||5–1||Dave Beneteau||Submission (front choke)||UFC 6||July 14, 1995||1||0:57||Casper, Wyoming, United States|
|Loss||4–1||Dan Severn||TKO (cut)||UFC 5||April 7, 1995||1||4:21||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Win||4–0||Ernie Verdicia||Submission (choke)||UFC 5||April 7, 1995||1||2:23||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Win||3–0||Maxim Kuzin||Submission (choke)||White Dragon: Day Three||October 23, 1993||1||1:11||Riga, Latvia|
|Win||2–0||Artur Almaev||TKO (corner stoppage)||White Dragon: Day Two||October 22, 1993||1||4:25||Riga, Latvia|
|Win||1–0||Vaskas Hilma||Submission (choke)||White Dragon: Day Two||October 22, 1993||1||0:24||Riga, Latvia|
- Lundgren and Oleg Taktarov Boxing Match
- Episode 9, American Sambo Association - Sambocast Radio
- Russianmartialart.com site
- Inside Wrestling, September 1995 issue, article "NWA/UFC Dan Severn champion proves wrestlers are the toughest athletes in the world!"
- Professional MMA record for Oleg Taktarov from Sherdog
- Official website
- Oleg Taktarov at the Internet Movie Database
|UFC 6 Tournament winner
July 14, 1995