Uran Satybaldiev is bringing Kyrgyz horsepower to LFA 178



There is an old Kyrgyz proverb that states, “A horse is a man’s wings.” In Kyrgyzstan, as in many Central Asian countries, horses are an important part of their national identity. The nomadic culture of the country lends itself naturally to the use of horses, which is highly valued in epics, poems, and of course sporting events. This includes mounted games such as Kok Boru, which is the National Sport of Kyrgyzstan and a traditional horse game that involves a synthesis of agility, physical strength, and courage.

This equestrian sport is a time-honored tradition among the nomadic tribes of Central Asia and possesses a unique rule set. The object of the game is for mounted riders to pick up a goat carcass called an ‘ulak’ that weighs 45 kilograms (nearly 100 pounds) from the ground, race it down a field the size of two soccer fields, and throw it into their opponent’s kazan (goal) at one end of the field. In doing so, the team earns one point. This happens to be the sport that Uran Satybaldiev grew up playing in his homeland, which has directly contributed to his physical and mental toughness as a fighter.

“I remember when I did Kok Boru since I was a kid,” Satybaldiev told LFA.com. “I had a horse since young age and always played it. It’s a very dangerous sport. I got hit by horses many times. MMA is way safer!” *laughs*


Get your tickets for LFA 178: Satybaldiev vs. Assis


Uran Satybaldiev developed his toughness playing Kok Boru, which is the National Sport of Kyrgyzstan.


Kok Boru is a Kyrgyz tradition that is also supported by one of the greatest female MMA fighters of all time, Valentina Shevchenko. The LFA great, women’s MMA legend, and future UFC Hall of Famer became the first fighter from Kyrgyzstan to win a UFC title back in 2018. Shevchenko is a pioneer for combat sports in her home country and has led the way for the rapidly emerging MMA hotbed that has suddenly arrived on the world stage with a wave of elite fighting prospects. Shevchenko, like Satybaldiev, is also an enthusiast of her country’s National Sport of Kok Boru.

“Traditionally, in Kok Boru horse game, players used ‘ulak’ sheep (or goat) carcass, and after the game they prepared a dinner of it to celebrate,” stated Shevchenko. “In modern days, players often use a tightly stitched leather ulak, which can reach 45 kilograms. That is almost 100 pounds!”


UFC legend Valentina Shevchenko holds an ulak (goat carcass) on a Kok Boru field in Kyrgyzstan.


Satybaldiev was an avid sportsman growing up in Osh, which is the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country. It is the oldest city in the country with UNESCO estimating it to be more than 3,000 years old. It is here where Satybaldiev grew up training and competing in Judo, Sambo, and Kok Boru. This forged a formidable base for the young Kyrgyz fighter when he decided it was time to make the jump to MMA.

“I started training martial arts when I was very young. My first MMA fight was when I was 18-years-old, Satybaldiev explained. “I started in Judo and transitioned to MMA. I was also Kyrgyzstan national champion in Sambo. Now, I want to make history in MMA.”


Uran Satybaldiev is looking to become the first fighter from Kyrgyzstan to win an LFA title.


Satybaldiev began his path on his quest to “make history in MMA” by training under Tima Kanatov at Uulu Kyrgyz Team in his hometown of Osh, Kyrgyzstan. It is there where he enjoyed a decorated amateur MMA career, which also included becoming a Sambo national champion in his home country. After this success, Satybaldiev decided to begin his professional MMA career four years ago. That first fight took place in his neighboring country of Kazakhstan against a Kazakh fighter named Manarbek Shaikhenov. Satybaldiev only needed 28 seconds to end the fight by knockout. After his debut win in February 2020, he took a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, once global travel restrictions were lifted a year later, Satybaldiev would return to action in a big way by channeling the explosive striking prowess of his favorite fighter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović. The powerful Kyrgyz fighter known as “Gorilla” would go full Donkey Kong across Central Asia and picked up four more wins by knockout by the end of 2021.

Satybaldiev had now built a résumé that included wins in his home country of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and a regional title victory in Russia. That is when he and his teammate Myktybek Orolbai decided to take their talents stateside. LFA Vice President Mark Bieri, who handles matchmaking and scouting talent worldwide for the promotion, quickly signed both prospects to multi-fight deals. The talented Kyrgyz fighters then teamed up with UFC Hall of Fame member Urijah Faber and made the move to the United States to train at the world-renowned Team Alpha Male fight team in Sacramento, California.


Watch LFA 178: Satybaldiev vs. Assis


Uran Satybaldiev earned a big win against Gabriel Thimoteo at LFA 165.


Satybaldiev would finally make his American-soil debut last summer at LFA 165. This bout served as a milestone for the Kyrgyz fighter, who had began his MMA journey on the opposite side of the planet one decade earlier. In fact, Satybaldiev would be headed into his LFA debut just two weeks after his teammate and friend Orobai had picked up his second of three wins for the promotion. Moreover, Orolbai had just knocked out longtime LFA veteran Gláucio Eliziário in dramatic fashion at LFA 164 and was on a fast track to the UFC (where he now fights). Satybaldiev used that as fuel headed into his own bout.

That long-awaited LFA debut came against the battle-tested Brazilian veteran Gabriel Thimoteo. The fight took place in Santa Cruz on the coast of Northern California just two hours from his new American base camp in Sacramento. More importantly, Satybaldiev would have both Orobai and Faber in his corner for this important contest. Satybaldiev proved to be up to the task as he kicked off the main card of LFA 165 with a dominant performance that earned him a Unanimous Decision victory from the judges sitting cageside.

“I am going to do the same things that Myktybek Orolbai did. We grew up together and we are built the same. We have a warrior spirit,” Satybaldiev explained. “It will feel amazing to become the first LFA champion from Kyrgyzstan. I came to America to collect titles and make history. LFA is the best promotion on UFC Fight Pass and it means a lot.”


Uran Satybaldiev with Vlad Gio Nikitin, Myktybek Orolbai, and Urijah Faber.
Satybaldiev fights for the LFA Interim Light-Heavyweight Title at LFA 178.


That positive experience last summer will be crucial as he now gets ready to fight another seasoned Brazilian veteran in Bruno Assis for the LFA Interim Light-Heavyweight Title in the Main Event of LFA 178. However, this time the level of competition has increased exponentially as there will be hardware on the line. Assis is one of the most decorated grapplers in the sport with black belts in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo as well as Karate. The American Top Team product also has LFA title fight experience and was a competitor on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Satybaldiev and Assis will square off at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California. This is the same venue and city where Satybaldiev won his highly-anticipated LFA debut last summer and he is excited to return to a familiar place for his title fight against a worthy adversary.

“It feels amazing to fight two hours away (from Team Alpha Male),” stated Satybaldiev. “Santa Cruz has amazing energy and I already know the place. I respect every opponent, but this is MMA.”

You can watch Uran “Gorilla” Satybaldiev face Bruno “Brunão” Assis for the LFA Interim Light-Heavyweight Title in the Main Event of LFA 178. The event takes place this Friday, March 8th and it will be available worldwide on UFC Fight Pass at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.





About LFA:
LFA is a professional Mixed Martial Arts promotion that was formed by the powerhouse merger between RFA and Legacy FC in 2017. It has launched the careers of over 300 athletes that have reached the pinnacle of MMA by competing in the UFC. LFA presents live Mixed Martial Arts events on a monthly basis around the world including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. Based in Las Vegas, NV, LFA is one of the most active and respected MMA organizations in the fastest growing sport in the world. The promotion owns and operates LFA FIGHT NETWORK™, a premium YouTube channel that features live combat sports events alongside live LFA Prelims and historical fights.

Please visit LFA.com for updates and information. Visit the official LFA YouTube channel (LFA FIGHT NETWORK™) at @LFAfights. LFA is on Facebook at Facebook.com/LFAfighting. LFA is also on Instagram at @LFAfighting and X (formerly Twitter) at @LFAfighting.


UFC FIGHT PASS® is the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports. Since launching in 2013, UFC FIGHT PASS is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. FIGHT PASS provides its members with unlimited access to live UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims; live mixed martial arts and combat sports from around the world; original series and historical programming; special features; behind-the-scenes content; in-depth interviews; and up-to-the minute reports on the world of combat sports. UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers also have 24/7 access to the world’s largest fight library, featuring more than 20,000 bouts from dozens of combats sports organizations, as well as every fight in UFC history. Fight fans can access UFC FIGHT PASS on personal computers, iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, and Sony TVs with Android TV. For more information, please visit UFCFightPass.com.


Kaiser Permanente Arena is home to the Santa Cruz Warriors G League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors and is located at 140 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Visit our website for more info.

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