WATCH: Mass brawl breaks out at Moscow MMA event as DOZENS clash in cage
There was little festive cheer on offer at the Winter Cup event in the Russian capital on Thursday night as former foes Ismailov and Mineev – whose 2018 contest under the Fight Nights banner ended in a draw – clashed after Mineev had called out his rival for a potential rematch.
With a ring announcer conducting a heated discussion with the pair inside the cage, Ismailov first feigned a sharp movement towards Mineev, who responded by lashing out with his microphone.
Ismailov then attempted to land a real punch on his rival, triggering an all-out brawl in which at least a dozen others spilled into the cage to join in the melee.
Announcers desperately tried to restore order, warning the brawlers that “we are live on air, don’t shame yourselves, please, the eyes of the world are on us” – but fans were still seen launching themselves into the cage and launching punches.
Ismailov was seen raising his hands in apparent celebration before calm eventually returned and the event was able to continue at the Dynamo Sports Palace complex.
Well they're certainly in the Christmas spirit over at AMC Fight Nights in Russia pic.twitter.com/gCWagXAFRs— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) December 24, 2020
According to reports in Russia, Ismailov was detained by police after the brawl but was later released. He could still be threatened with a fine or 15 days’ jail time.
Both fighters received minor injuries, with Ismailov suffering a blow to his nose and Mineev being cut under his eye.
Immediate speculation turned to whether the incident had been staged to stoke interest in an Ismailov-Mineev rematch, and while Fight Nights Global boss Kamil Gadzhiev did not rule out the prospect of the pair running it back, he dismissed any idea that the mass ruckus had been set up.
“The fight is real, they did not agree. For us, this is more a minus than a plus,” Gadzhiev said.
That opinion was shared by Ismailov’s brother Ramzan, who said: "If there was something like that [a staged fight], Magomed would not have bled and his nose would not have been broken. Mineev also had a cut."
Despite the talk that he would now face Mineev again, Ismailov’s team have said his priority is to face former Bellator fighter Alexander Shlemenko in his next contest, potentially in August after taking a break from competing.
Middleweight Ismailov, 34, boasts a record of 17 wins, two defeats and one draw in his professional ledger, and famously defeated heavyweight Alexander Emelianenko – brother of MMA legend Fedor – in a clash dubbed ‘David vs Goliath’ at ACA 107 back in July.Also on rt.com 'David KOs Goliath': Russian MMA fighter Ismailov dismantles Alexander Emelianenko despite 50-POUND weight difference (VIDEO)
Ismailov’s last appearance in the cage was less than a fortnight ago when he dominated ‘Ural Hulk’ Ivan Shtyrkov in a decision victory also under the ACA banner.
Middleweight Mineev, 30, boasts a record of 14 wins, 1 defeat and 1 draw in his career, with the 6ft fighter’s last contest ending in a third-round TKO victory over Dauren Ermekov at a Fight Nights Global event in September.