TFC Featherweight Champion Yusup Saadulaev has come a long way since his childhood in a small village in Dagestan, where he worked on the family farm and herded sheep from a young age. Growing up, he showed glimpses of the fighting spirit that has served him so well in his career, as he constantly stood up to bullies and never backed down.
At the age of 12, his father brought him to train one of the top wrestling schools in the nation, and Saadulaev had his first taste of martial arts. Though he proved to be a talented wrestler, he would not begin competing seriously until he went to the United States to study. There, he began training in BJJ and boxing, and a fire was lit within him. Building upon his elite wrestling, his growing skills on the ground started to earn him great success, as he captured a NAGA gold medal and a Pan American BJJ Championship.
After inevitably making his professional mixed martial arts debut in 2008, he went undefeated in his first 10 bouts before eventually signing with Japanese promotion DREAM, where he made a name for himself by knocking out Japanese mixed martial arts legend Hideo Tokoro with a spectacular slam. Since signing for ONE Championship, Saadulaev has scored wins over several top opponents, including ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes, BRACE Bantamweight Champion Jordan Lucas, and veteran Japanese World Champion Masakazu Imanari.