S.D. wrestling legend Logan Storley fighting for mixed-martial arts world title
The Webster High School star looks to avenge his only professional loss to Ukraine's Yaroslav Amosov, who gave up the welterweight belt to defend his country in the war with Russia.
Saturday in Dublin, South Dakota's own Logan Storley will take on Yaroslav Amosov in a mixed martial arts bout that couldn't be much bigger.
Amosov is undefeated, the former Bellator welterweight champion. Storley is the current (but interim) champion, having lost just once in his career — to Amosov.
That's enough to make it a huge event in the world of mixed martial arts, but there's even more to it than that. Amosov didn't lose the title. He was forced to pull out of his first scheduled title defense, against Michael Page, when the 29-year-old Ukrainian joined the military in his home country to fight against the Russian invasion.
Amosov walked away a year ago, where he was one of several noteworthy Ukrainian fighters, including the boxing Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, in defending their country. He helped liberate his hometown of Irpin, and in November, announced his return to fighting. He managed to pull the championship belt from the rubble in Irpin while there.
While Amosov was gone, Storley, a 30-year-old Webster native who went 262-3 with six state titles as a prep wrestler, bested Page in a split decision in a fight to determine the interim welterweight champion.
Now that Amosov is back, it's time to unify the belt, and declare an official champion.
"It's time to go and settle this," said Storley, who became an All-American wrestler at the University of Minnesota before going pro in MMA. "I'm excited to have that opportunity to bring a belt home and represent the state of South Dakota. I know it's going to be a grueling fight, he knows it's going to be a grueling fight, and we're gonna find out who the best welterweight is."
To be clear, there's no bad blood permeating this fight, no politics. Storley respects Amosov and expressed both sympathy for his situation and admiration for his service. But he certainly wants to beat him. While Amosov is 26-0, with 19 of those wins coming by either knockout or submission, the prior meeting with Storley was a tightly contested one. Going head to head at Bellator 252 in November 2020 in Connecticut, Amosov edged Storley 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
"It was a very close fight," Storley said. "A fight I thought I did enough in. This fight I'm gonna have to push the pace and get him out of position. We've got five rounds to settle it. That's the big thing for this fight — you've got 25 minutes of two of the best in the world going at it. I think I've improved dramatically from that first fight. My time in the cage, learning to put everything together, using my boxing a lot more and just having that confidence in yourself from fighting the best in the world."
Amosov's 26-match win streak is the longest current one in major mixed martial arts. Since returning to train he's given accounts of the atrocities he witnessed while serving. More than 7,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. But once his family was safe, friends and family convinced Amosov to return to the cage. Amosov has said he'll return to Ukraine after his fight with Storley.
For Storley's part, he's a slight underdog, but is clearly confident and oozing with excitement for the fight. He's hoping that claiming the belt outright can be just the beginning for the next stage in his burgeoning career, but knows Amosov is a huge test on the way there.
"He's very solid all-around," Storley said of Amosov. "He's good everywhere, he has no weaknesses. He can also set a high pace so that's why the first fight was so close. We both know it comes down to who can continue to grind and keep that high pace when you're both exhausted."
Bellator 291 is set for Saturday night on Showtime, with Storley and Amosov expected to take the cage at approximately 6 p.m.